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 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 promotes Young People’s expression and engagement through Puppetry and Theatre practices. As well as collaborating and performing with ERTH Visual & Physical Inc and Welsh theatre company PuppetSoup, she has co-directed and worked alongside Shop Front Arts Co-Op Junior Ensemble of 8-14-year old’s to create the original devised production, The Unknown. Tegan is currently working as Teaching Artist for Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘School Drama’. This is a Teachers Professional Development Program designed to improve teaching and learning by modelling the use of drama-based strategies with quality children's literature.