Shuffle festival opens up Mile End’s old St Clement’s workhouse

PUBLISHED: 14:20 09 August 2013 | UPDATED: 14:20 09 August 2013

Street theatre entertainment at Shuffle Fest

Street theatre entertainment at Shuffle Fest


A People’s festival has kicked off on the site of an old workhouse in London’s East End that’s soon to become Britain’s first community land trust housing.

'Bubble Man' Harbajan Taak bubbling with entertaiment'Bubble Man' Harbajan Taak bubbling with entertaiment

The old St Clement’s Hospital in the Mile End Road which started life as an early 19th century workhouse for the East End’s poor has been opened up for two weeks by the East London Community Land Trust which is helping to turn the six-acre site into low-cost housing.

Their Shuffle Festival kicked off last night with Danny Boyle, the 2012 Olympics ceremony producer who lives in Mile End, introducing his 1994 film Shallow Grave and the short Film The Ellington Kid directed by Dan Sully. Boyle also did a questions-and-answers session about his favourite films.

Street entertainers were on hand for the crowds coming in to experience the site which has been closed for eight years and to bring ideas before the first homes are even built.

One of the big attractions is the al fresco food stalls. These include Rachael and Nick’s Capish Italian-American street food with slow-cooked beef served up with chilli and cheese, inspired by the Sopranos TV show starring James Gandolfini as the Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano.

Nick Appleyard and Racheal Jones coooking their Capish Italian-American 'street' foodNick Appleyard and Racheal Jones coooking their Capish Italian-American 'street' food

“Dennis Soprano was a big fan of a beefsteak tenderized and covered in chilli, pecorino cheese and cooked slowly over eight hours,” Nick explains. “That’s what we’ve recreated, cooked overnight and prepared in a sandwich from a hotplate.”

They shift a lot—it’s pretty popular, but the slow-cook means there’s only a certain amount they can serve up each day.

The festival also includes opening new community gardens put together by volunteers and Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park next door, as well as a new community café and a host of workshops.

Sunday is a ‘Day of the Mind’ exploring the history of psychiatric care, with comedienne Ruby Wax revealing her personal experience.

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