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Our One & Only Irene

When a life is so filled with stories of personal overtakes of itself, a Portuguese would say this lady’s life is packed like an egg.

Solicitous and diligent, tender and rough, skinny and strong, smart and emotional, Irene is surely one of the best from the Lagarteiro tribe and a queen of spades and hearts in Miss’Opo’s team since the beginning. 

She’s responsible for keeping clean the 900 square meters of our building in a daily basis. No one knows the building better than she does. 

For the Concrete Observer, that’s enough to call her heroin due the countless times she comes to rescue and help us in the most simple incidents or actions of our jobs.

We met for a coffee, this time not at the counter of M’O bar as we usually do, for a break in between guests welcoming and preparations. We found ourselves on a rooftop to see Porto from above and she overflew her other side of existence.

Circumstances led her to deal with high society at an early age, she went to a boarding school and later to Aurélia de Sousa, a public high school. She saw the Carnation Revolution and Virgínia Moura getting out of prison. She was a worker in a textile manufacturing factory, secretary, cook, she owned a butcher shop and a cafe.

She has a very sensitive scale for justice. No man nor woman should diminish or disrespect another human being. Injustice is what makes Irene snap and she doesn’t seem to step on others. She wants to serve, not to be a servant and that’s an universal truth she applies to everyone around her.

Irene became an actress six years ago through an association called Pele which lively works in her community, a social neighbourhood which faces labels correlated to poverty and block people to go further even if they aim to. 

Her kind of theatre is the oppressed one, a method created by Augusto Boal, a brasilian guy who, in the sixties, was concerned about political and social changes and saw playing roles and extending participation to the “spect-actors” a way to promote awareness. Stories don’t come up from books, rather from life conflicts. Interaction is mandatory.

Irene shows a very deep love and pride for this activity. She claims she’s not a jar to put a label on and she feels she slaps with a glove those big bosses who bully around, or simply ignore, people who have the wrong address. 

The Lagarteiro is one of these neighbourhoods and her latest home, although she has lived in several other locations in Porto. In this oriental part of town, simple things lack, like the bus 400 that make life hard to get to work or to get back home. She takes more time to get downtown, if the bus decides to show up, than you to get from Porto to Aveiro by train.

Irene has the hands of the resistance and with Theater of the Opressed she is one of the stars who try to bring back the immaterial heritage of Invicta’s people, the one that is nationally known for taking care of others and give the best to someone in need. 

Next 31st October, you may see her acting with other resistants from Vitória and Lordelo tribes at S. Bento da Vitória Monastery, 5 minutes away and walking from Miss’Opo. If you miss this performance, try to get back to Portugal in 2015 (we’ll be out of crisis and everything LOL) to see her at Casa da Música on June the 3rd or at Teatro D. Maria II, in Lisbon on the 6th.

At Miss’Opo, the more invisible she is, the better her job is done. 

On stage, I hope she gets so bright we start to feel her golden heart dripping over us.