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Jan 27, 2023 at 10:00 am – Jan 29, 2023 at 4:30 pm

First as Tragedy, then as Farce: The Act of Reenactment

With Zoe Beloff, Agnese Cornelio, Cathy Lee Crane, Tara Mateik, Rodrigo Reyes, & Kate Valk

Please note: This workshop will be held in UnionDocs’ new space in Ridgewood!
We’re now at: 352 Onderdonk Ave, Ridgewood,  NY – 11385

History repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce. In this workshop series, we will keep Karl Marx’s famous phrase in mind as we explore the theme of reenactment in a myriad of forms. We will invite participants to think about radical ways of restaging history. In a counter spirit to the Hollywood historical drama, we will question the idea of creating a seamless illusion of the past.

During this three-day workshop, we will explore reenactment as a device to rupture time, bringing the past into the present to help us imagine the future in a spirit of liberation. We will look at ways in which restaging events can defamiliarize our world, revealing the cracks and fissures of what we think we know, opening up a space for what has been forgotten, suppressed, or deliberately left out of the official record. Did history have to turn out the way it did, or can we rewrite it anew?

Composed of six sessions, this workshop brings together a diverse spectrum of practitioners who will share their ideas about documentary reenactment in relation to community building, exploring what it means for people to reenact their own experience or that of their community. We will discuss its populist appeal, its potential to bring people together, without ignoring its dark side, its ever-present potential to relitigate history in the most reactionary ways. On a more individual level, we will consider repetition versus reenactment and its relation to work and to psychological disturbance. We will also be concerned with more practical questions that filmmakers face in the field, from working with non-actors to casting and directing professionals.

We’ll explore a range of practices and approaches to reenactment in documentary with a stellar lineup of artists coming from a spectrum of disciplines to help understand how the technique of reenactment can be an effective and creative tool. Renowned avant-garde actor and theater director Kate Valk (The Wooster Group) will specifically engage on the level of performance and gesture; while Rodrigo Reyes’ will give us a closer look at his documentary feature films 499, and Sanson & Me that can help us interrogate how the use of reenactment resonates today. Cathy Lee Crane (Crossing Columbus, The Manhattan Front) will discuss how she navigates the genre conflict between documentary and fiction. Tara Mateik (Putting the Balls Away) will discuss his work underscoring moments of collective transfeminism across historical and geographic location, and Agnese Cornelio will focus on how recreating histories across time and contexts can deliver new impacts in her work in theater and filmmaking.

Throughout the weekend, participants will be provided with prompts from the visiting artists that will allow them to explore different approaches and techniques regarding reenactment. They will also be able to discuss their own works in conversation with this stellar group of guests and with other participants. Anyone interested, whether or not they have a piece they are working on, is invited to join.

Seats are limited, so sign up today!

NOTE: This workshop will require in-person participation from all participants. Each participant must present proof of vaccination. Any and all questions, please reach out to [email protected].


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for documentary filmmakers, scholars, actors and media artists. This workshop is in person and will be conducted in compliance with CDC protocols.

$350 early bird registration by Jan 20th, 2023 at 11:59PM.

$400 regular registration.

UnionDocs will offer the equivalent of 2 scholarships for BIPOC filmmakers or media artists expressing financial need. Applicants should reach out to [email protected] in order to fill a scholarship inquiry by January 18, 2023.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until Jan 20th. After Jan 20th, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

NOTE: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash. After the early bird registration deadline of Jan 20th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Accessibility: UnionDocs public area is fully ADA compliant. Entrance, workshop space and public restrooms are wheelchair accessible.

CART captioning can be available upon request.

If you have any questions or concerns about accessibility during your visit, please feel free to email us in advance at [email protected].


Friday, Jan 27: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Welcome & intros
10:30am – 12:30pm Intro by Zoe Beloff
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Rodrigo Reyes (Zoom)
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Saturday, Jan 28: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, review of previous day
10:30am – 12:30pm Cathy Lee Crane
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Kate Valk
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Sunday, Jan 29: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, review of previous day
10:30am – 12:30pm Agnese Cornelio (Zoom)
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Tara Mateik
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


First Workshop Session




Second Workshop Session


Wrap Up


Zoe Beloff is a filmmaker, artist, writer and rootless cosmopolitan based in New York. She aims to make art that both entertains and provokes discussion. With a focus on social justice, she draws timelines between past and present to imagine a more egalitarian future. She is particularly interested in ‘staging history’ and the radical potential of reenactment. She recently completed a trilogy of movies, based on ideas for films proposed but never realized by left artists; Eisenstein’s scenario Glass House, Brecht’s A Model Family in a Model Home and James Agee’s The Tramp’s New World. She is currently at work on a documentary public art project, @ WORK in collaboration with her long-time cinematographer and all-round partner in crime, Eric Muzzy. Zoe’s work has been featured in international exhibitions and screenings, including the Whitney Museum Biennale, MoMA, the Pompidou Center in Paris, International Film Festival Rotterdam, FID Marseille and the Essay Film Festival in London. She is a professor at Queens College CUNY.

Agnese Cornelio (Italy, 1978) comes from a theatre practice that intertwines fiction and documentary work. As director she realised performances based on contemporary plays as well as documentary theatre projects for German and Italian speaking theatres and for international festivals. As a researcher her work focuses on the crossovers between film and performance on the topic of work Her research was shown at Het Theaterfestival 2010 ”k zie, ik zie wat jij niet ziet”, at the festival Burning Ice 2011 – Kaai Theatre and at the IFFR 2015 with the Installative performance [Working title]. She studied communication sciences and theatre direction and attended the training a.pass in artistic research and the MA in Film at the Netherlands Film Academie. The ongoing project free to work, developed as Master Project was awarded with the AHK Eindwerkprijs 2014, and supported by the AfK 3/Package-Deal in 2015.

Cathy Lee Crane received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013 for her lyrical recombinations of archival and staged material. She received the first survey of her work in 2015 as part of the American Original Now series at the National Gallery of Art. She has also been a director of photography for many artists including on Harun Farocki’s Prison Images (2000). Crane is Professor in the Department of Cinema and Photography at Ithaca College.

Tara Mateik is a multimedia performance artist and videomaker with an extensive background in education and community activism. His creative work and pedagogy are driven by his interdisciplinary practice, which draws on a range of fields, including media activism, performance studies, video art, queer theory and history, arts education, and media archaeology. He is deeply committed to issues of social justice and has worked with students, artists, and community members from marginalized backgrounds throughout his career. This commitment is reflected not only in his teaching, but also in his artistic practice; in each forum, he emphasizes collaboration and responsiveness to political contexts.

In his videos, performances, and installations, he creates critical reenactments that underscore moments of collective transfeminism across historical and geographic locations. His projects revisit key moments in pop culture where sexual, social, and economic power structures are in flux; these reenactments, then, are not passive recreations of the past, but political interventions into our understanding of history. Specifically, he works with queer iconography to explore the ways in which history is written on, and by, actual bodies. Performing with other gender nonconforming bodies, his work is intended to disrupt participants’ expectations, to present the imaginable as real, and to generate new political potentialities—in essence, to pervert the audiovisual archive.

Mexican director Rodrigo Reyes (Mexico City, 1983), makes films deeply grounded in his identity as an immigrant artist, crafting a poetic gaze from the margins, using striking imagery to portray the contradictory nature of our shared world, while revealing the potential for transformative change. He has received the support of The Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), Sundance and Tribeca Institutes, while his films have screened on PBS and Netflix. His film “499,” won Best Cinematography at Tribeca and the Special Jury Award at Hot Docs. Rodrigo is a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim and Creative Capital Awards. In 2022, Rodrigo won the Best Film Award at Sheffield DocFest with “Sansón and Me.”

Kate Valk is a theater artist working in experimental theater productions. For over forty years, she has been performing internationally and creating work with The Wooster Group.

Valk attended New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts where she studied with Stella Adler. Valk joined The Wooster Group in 1979, assisting the group’s director Elizabeth LeCompte on everything from making props and costumes to transcribing and editing texts. In 1981, she performed her first Wooster Group role in Route 1 & 9, a version of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Since that time, she has had a formative role in all of the Group’s theater productions, dance pieces, and works for film, video, and radio. Valk’s Wooster Group portrayals include performances in L.S.D. (… Just the High Points…) (1984), based on Arthur Miller’s The CrucibleBrace Up! (1991, 2003) from Chekhov’s Three Sisters; and To You, The Birdie (2002), based on Racine’s Phédre. Other highlights of her storied career with the Wooster Group include in House/Lights (1998, 2005), based on Gertrude Stein’s Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights; Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones (1993, 2006); Poor Theater (2004), Hamlet (2007, 2012); Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carré (2011); Harold Pinter’s The Room (2016); and the Group’s most recent work Brecht’s The Mother.

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Jan 27, 2023 at 10:00 am
Jan 29, 2023 at 4:30 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
QUEENS, NY 11385 United States
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