WORDS WEEKEND REVIEW: Stacey Dooley @ Sage Gateshead (08.12.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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You will likely know Stacey Dooley for her work as a documentarian, investigating the extremities of humanity around the world. A lot of her work has a female focus, illuminating atrocities against women whilst giving voice to the resilience of the feminine spirit. It’s not a mishap with the shuffle button then as Spice Up Your Life by the Spice Girls fills the room to introduce Dooley tonight.

Part career retrospective, we’re treated to clips of Dooley’s first foray into investigative journalism on the BBC Three documentary Blood Sweat and T-shirts. She’s a good sport about the inevitable cringe factor of showing us her 19 year old self learning the ropes, but it’s clear to see her aptitude for what would become a trademark lack of pretension and an empathetic fervour. 

A large portion of tonight’s talk revolves around a group of women that particularly inspire Dooley, the Yazidi Women’s Army. Formed in 2015, these women militarised themselves to protect their community from the Islamic state of Iraq. Some had come from careers as hairdressers, even one as a pop star, now they were handiest with assault rifles. We’re shown a video of Dooley with the Yazidi in Iraq when shooting breaks out, she ducks to the floor but no one around her follows suit – except the camera operator. The camera pans to a soldier smiling, they are the ones shooting, not the enemy. After the clip, Dooley speaks with reverence about the bravery of these women, seemingly oblivious to her own bravery in following them into the fray. 

The Q & A begins and a slew of young girls line up behind the microphone, each has a thoughtful question and I’m feeling inspired by how inspired they are until nine year old Katy gets to the heart of the matter. “Do you ever feel you can’t do something because you’re a woman?” Dooley responds with everything a young girl would need to hear, “I used to, but be kind, work hard,” then she asks what Katy would like to do: “I received a letter from the GEO saying they’re closing the pay gap, so I’d like to do that.” Katy takes her seat to a loud, if slightly bemused applause as we all think back to our nine-year-old aspirations. I wanted to be Tony Hawk, perhaps that’s because I didn’t have Stacey Dooley on my television.

In the foyer Dooley patiently signs books for over an hour, giving each fan her undivided attention. People leave the encounter in floods of tears and Dooley stays till the very last person in the queue, which happens to be me. 

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