Leny Woolsey: The Distance of Hierarchy

Are organisational distances productive? Should we close the gaps and, if so, how can those at the top of the ladder be influenced to do so?


A system in which members of an organization or society are ranked according to relative status or authority.

pecking order, ranking, grading, ladder, social order, class system Hierarchy takes three forms; Inequality of skills and knowledge; Inequality of rewards, and; Inequality of authority.

These inequalities represent distances, or gaps, between members of an organisation, that can de-humanize workplaces through alienation and isolation. Organisational Theatre exposes gaps, inviting individuals and organisations to consider the dynamics of distance in their working lives. Established hierarchies, incentive schemes and upward mobility may be deconstructed using arts-based learning. Are organisational distances productive? Should we close the gaps and, if so, how can those at the top of the ladder be influenced to do so? If inequalities are necessary in certain organisations, how can we destigmatise the lower rungs of the ladder and move beyond the isolating and alienating effects of distance?

Leny Woolsey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Auckland UoA. Her supervisors are Associate Professor Brigid Carroll and Professor Peter O’Connor. Leny completed a BA in Acting at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, after which she appeared in classical and contemporary theatre productions across the UK and Europe. After a career change led to a decade of management in the private sector, Leny completed her MBA at the UoA in 2012. In 2014 she began pursuing a PhD in arts-based leadership development, focusing on Organizational Theatre. As a theatre-maker and musician, Leny’s research interests are in aesthetics, organizational citizenship and community, collaborative leadership and creativity in the workplace. Her latest project was to write, direct and produce a musical for a global supplier to the construction industry, the aftermath of which she is still grappling with as she completes her PhD thesis.

Tegan Arazny (Facilitator & Documenter)
Tegan is a strong advocate for the development of Theatre and the Arts in community settings and has been involved with numerous Applied Theatre programmes throughout her professional training and experience. Tegan graduated with a Master of Arts with Distinction in Applied Theatre from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has professional experience in Community Performance that engages young people in contemporary social issues. Tegan has also collaborated and performed with award-winning theatre company PuppetSoup to deliver puppetry workshops and tour their new bilingual show, ‘Arthur the Bear King’, to rural and socially deprived areas of Wales. Tegan is currently working with The Blue Datto Foundation as a Project Coordinator to expand and develop their interactive road safety education program to young people and communities throughout New South Wales, Australia.