Best Supporting Actress - 2013
It's tempting to grant this award to "the women of Ruined," because the production was such a vital showcase for talented, dynamic women of color, whose extraordinary sum could not be realized without each significant part. But if forced to single out one of them, we give the honor to Jade Wheeler, an actress best known for her work in the Washington, D.C. area whose regional breakthroughs at GableStage have been revelatory. Surely, nobody who witnessed her performance as a confident, scheming, buttoned-down legal aide in David Mamet's Race last summer could have anticipated the battered shell of a character she would play next in Ruined. As Sophie, she etched the show's most unforgettable portrait — the "ruined" woman of the title dispatched to Mama Nadi's (Lela Elam) wartime brothel and forced into service despite the fact that a bayonet had mutilated her vagina. The entire way Wheeler carried herself — from her limping gait to the careful combination of squeamishness and terror in her eyes whenever a brutish guerrilla pawed her — was of a heartbreaking piece, performed with tensile poise and an intelligent subtlety.