Don Bosco used the theater as a platform to build confidence in the young and also use it as a medium to showcase God’s love for His people. As such, one of the highlights of FIN’s 200th celebration of Don Bosco’s birth is a stage play entitled Coetera Tolle.
Fr. Dennis Paez, SDB, producer and creative director, explains that Coetera Tolle forms the second part of Don Bosco’s motto, “Da mihi animas, coetera tolle” (Give me souls, take away the rest).
The “Take away the rest is the price Don Bosco was willing to pay that this glory to God may indeed be served.” The production had nine staging, from 24 to 30 August, all held at the Meralco theater in Pasig City.
The cast is composed of 29 young people, pooled in from FIN’s TVET Center in Don Bosco Makati. They come from as far north as Ifugao and all the way to Lanao del Norte in the south. A strong supporting cast was also provided by Tuloy sa Don Bosco Street Children Village. They were all 21 young actors and actresses. The production staff include Salesians, aspirants and lay volunteers.
The story revolves around a Salesian priest whose life has affected the lives of the people living in his midst. It is set in contemporary time, in which the characters are beset with real, day-to-day crisis attacking the current culture.
Interspersed in the plot are three renowned dreams of Don Bosco: (1) Dream at Nine, (2) Dream of the Two Columns, and (3) Dream of the Roses and Thorns. These three dreams are deemed Don Bosco’s legacy to his children.
The whole production is sandwiched with the two moments in which Don Bosco wept—First, when he woke up after the dream at nine, disoriented, confused, and afraid as to the significance of that dream and second, when one moment in his waning years, during his celebration of the Eucharist, he could not but weep profusely after recognizing how God’s hands wrought everything into its rightful place. He understood everything now.
Br. Paul Dungca, SDB, the script writer, notes that “As this momentous event of the bicentenary birth of Don Bosco coincides with the Philippine church’s celebration of the year of the poor, it is but fitting that the narration of the story of the saint is woven into the story of poor young people he lived and died for.”