Best actress - 2000
Sheila Ivy Traister
Although the character of Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is typically portrayed as a menopausal beast, newcomer Sheila Ivy Traister took a different tack that, within the context of Shadow Theatre Company's contemporary setting, proved just as valid. Filled with verbal buoys signaling undercurrents of antipathy, Traister offered up a remarkable interpretation that colored the multiracial production with a thick tincture of '90s commentary. She also summoned the unspeakable bitterness of a self-centered loner out to destroy anything that eludes her grasp. And her stylish performance in the Theatre Group's The Blue Room bestowed similar virtuosity on playwright David Hare's study of modern-day sexual ruins. Playing everything from a slinky girl who just wants to have fun to a duplicitous matron with refined political instincts, Traister shed a few inhibitions (along with her clothes) while making each character's intimate musings seem as natural and unforced as breezy pillow talk.