Sherie Rene Scott
(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
Sherie Rene Scott
(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
In a downtown ceremony that many of the participants referred to as figuratively "uptown," such mainstream performers as Dana Ivey, Sherie Rene Scott, and Julie White were among the winners of the 51st Annual Village Voice Obie Awards.

The ceremony was held on Monday night, May 15 at the Skirball Center at New York University. It was hosted by Lili Taylor and Eric Bogosian; presenters included two of this year's Obie winners, S. Epatha Merkerson and Christine Ebersole, along with Edward Hibbert, Douglas Carter Beane, Phylicia Rashad, and Oskar Eustis.

Accepting her citation, Ivey looked around the swank auditorium and said, "I'm a little overwhelmed at the fanciness of this all." Many of the women, including Ebersole and Scott, were gowned in confections that would have looked smart at the Oscars. Conversely, director John Clancy, acknowledged for his very high level of activity this season, kept the old Obie spirit alive by bemoaning the loss of such far-flung experimental enclaves as Stanton Street on the Lower East Side. "I just want to make sure that we all stay downtown," he said with fervor.

As usual, politics were brought up during the ceremony -- this time by 90-year-old Eric Bentley, who was given a Lifetime Achievement honor. Speaking about President George W. Bush's recent comments on Western liberal culture, Bentley issued the impassioned cry: "Infidels of the world, unite!"

Here is a complete list of the 2006 Obie Award winners:

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PERFORMANCE
S. Epatha Merkerson: Birdie Blue
Ari Fliakos: Poor Theater: A Series of Simulacra
Scott Shepherd: Poor Theater: A Series of Simulacra
Gary Wilmes: Red Light Winter
Dana Ivey: Mrs. Warren's Profession
Christine Ebersole: Grey Gardens
Euan Morton: Measure for Pleasure
Lois Smith: The Trip to Bountiful
Edwin Lee Gibson: The Seven
Sherie Rene Scott: Landscape of the Body
Julie White: The Little Dog Laughed
Peter Francis James: Stuff Happens
Byron Jennings: Stuff Happens
Marin Ireland : Cyclone
Michael Cumpsty: Hamlet
Meg MacCary : What Then
Reed Birney: Sustained Excellence of Performance

DIRECTION
Daniel Sullivan: Stuff Happens
John Clancy: Sustained Excellence of Direction

PLAYWRITING
Rolin Jones: The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow
Martin McDonagh: The Lieutenant Of Inishmore

DESIGN
NTUSA: Abacus Black Strikes Now
Anita Yavich: Sustained Excellence of Costume Design
Allen Moyer: Sustained Excellence of Set Design

SPECIAL CITATIONS
Nikkole Salter, Danai Gurira, Robert O'Hara: In the Continuum
Adam Rapp: Red Light Winter
Jane Moss, Jon Nakagawa, Ricky Ian Gordon, Doug Varone: Orpheus and Euridyce
Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Michael Berresse: [title of show]

THE ROSS WETZSTEON MEMORIAL AWARD:
Soho Repertory Theater

EMERGING THEATER GRANTS
Edge Theater Company
Red Bull Theater
Billie Holiday Theatre

EMERGING PLAYWRIGHT GRANTS
Rinne Groff
Neena Beber

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Eric Bentley