His friends scoured the class listings looking for electives that might steer them toward their future careers.
Drew Boening left his blank.
The South Kitsap High School senior, who placed second in the August Wilson Monologue last month in Seattle to advance to the finals next month in New York, had no idea what he wanted to pursue two years ago.
Instead of choosing his electives, Boening deferred to computer placement.
“I thought I would get a vast array of classes,” he said. “There were some that I didn’t like.”
But Boening has no regrets. He said it allowed him to figure out what he wanted to do. Especially when he took a class last year from theater manager Debi Emans.
That is when Boening broke his trend. He signed up for Scott Yingling’s acting ensemble class during the fall.
“He just kind of blossomed from there,” said Yingling, a 1999 South graduate who graduated from Central Washington University’s drama program and did stand-up comedy for a while. “He’s really come into himself this year as an actor. He’s a very talented actor.”
Boening played Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet in Revenge and now is practicing for his lead role in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily.
But none were bigger than the August Wilson Monologue, which comprises 10 different plays set in the 20th Century. According to truecolorstheater.org, “At the core of each work are soaring, lyrical monologues that take the song, laughter, pain and rich content of African-American life and place it in the mouths of a great and varied ensemble of characters.”
Boening, who placed second among 40 participants in the April 3 competition at the Seattle Repertory Theater, said he enjoyed the event because it was different than any role he has experienced.
“It’s something very new to me and different to get into,” said Boening, who was among four South students at the event. “The competition is trying to break down racial barriers.”
That is accomplished through intense research. Boening considers himself an avid reader and movie buff. He researches all of his characters before beginning to memorize lines.
“You have to do the character how it’s written and show the audience how it is,” Boening said. “To take it to the next level, you have to get to know it unless you’re a natural.”
“If you really like it, you have to be willing to do the work.”
Yingling said his pupil is modest about his skills.
“Drew gets all of the credit here,” he said. “He really has worked hard. I don’t claim to be some acting guru that can wave the magic wand.”
Boening, who will travel May 5-8 to New York to participate in the finals on Broadway at the August Wilson Theater, said he has progressed quickly. He credits that to the drama program at South.
“I think we’re very similar to an arts school,” said Boening, adding that shows through the opportunities that South students receive despite not being located in a metropolitan area.
Wherever Boening steps onto the stage, he said one challenge remains – but it does not involve memorizing lines, which he thought he never would be able to accomplish when he watched movies as a child.
“The first time you do it, there is self-doubt,” said Boening, referring to each of his different roles. “You have to live in the moment, which is difficult.”
Boening, who won a $250 scholarship for his performance in Seattle, will get to watchClybourne Park, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last year, while he is on Broadway. He is hopeful that a theater school in that area will notice him, which he could parlay into his ideal scenario – a theatrical career.
“I hope that it leads to me being in an environment like New York or Seattle,” Boening said. “But I’ve got a long way to go before I reach the pinnacle.”
Yingling said he does not doubt that Boening has the potential to do that.
“I think he has all of the tools to really make this a career,” he said. “He’s just a heck of a young man. I will brag about him all day.”