The sweet after taste of Coetera Tolle

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Don Bosco: God’s gift to the young. Photo by Renzo Pangilinan

Fr. Dennis Paez’s introductory remarks pays tribute to the young people who have been part of the production. But his opening spiel was also a form of ‘managing’ the youthful audience who may not be familiar with the theater culture: What they’re about to see is not just something similar with the spectacle they see on their gadget screens. Thus, their response as an audience affects the performance of the performers.

I find Fr. Dennis’ ringing the hand-held bell very Salesian during the intermission to remind the students that they’re supposed to be back already inside the theater for the second act.

This gesture must have brought the Bosconians back to their respective “homes” telling them to fall in line outside their rooms for the break is about to end, and they need to prep up for their next class.

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Scene of Dream of Two Columns. Photo by Renzo Pangilinan

Watching the play is synonymous to, let me use the cliche, a roller coaster ride of emotions.

A cursory survey in the row of seats where I was seated, people laughed and shed tears in moments when these emotions were called for.

I was told that one of the crucial scenes was just finalized on the penultimate day before the first performance took off. I agree with Br. Migs how the genius of the execution of that scene dexterously put a neat solution to the issues of the play.

The #hugot lines in the play were really that, hugot from the real world. One may wonder how in the world could someone who has been shielded by the walls of the seminary could masterfully conjure such powerful lines which young people could relate to. Indeed, the script was simply remarkable. Take a bow, Br Paul Dungca!

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Photo by Renzo Pangilinan

Sure, there were notes which were not reached, lines that were not delivery with gusto. But these are negligible if one looks at it as one seamless art piece staged by the young, for the young, and with the young.

I dropped by a number of times in their rehearsals. I witnessed first hand how they had to be corrected for the nth time in order to execute the act properly. Their performance last Friday made me compare how the rawness of their talents blossomed into a beautiful fabric of artistry which, I am certain, would have moved Don Bosco in tears and gratitude, witnessing how his life could inspire the talents and virtues of these young people to assemble a work of art, and a school of virtues, to honor him on his 200th birth anniversary.

I was glad to realize that the masterful play just unfolded before my eyes was a production which my good friends and confreres were all involved in.

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The staff, some performers and the guests at the set of Coetera Tolle.

But I felt that I was happier because I am a Salesian of Don Bosco. And as such, the stories of the young people and of the Salesians on the stage, are something that is not just a mere work of fiction. The characters and stories do exist. Albeit, in different names and circumstances.

And as a Salesian, I feel blessed recognizing that God has been using my life as a channel of His love and grace.

Here is a synopsis of the play.

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