LONDON, March 22, 2010 (AFP) - Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz scooped a top prize at Britain's Laurence Olivier theatre awards for her role in the classic play "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Weisz was named best actress Sunday for playing fading southern beauty Blanche DuBois in the Tennessee Williams work.
"It means an awful lot. I never thought I would be holding one of these in my lifetime," said Weisz as she accepted the prize.
"Most of all this is for Blanche DuBois, I love her, Tennessee Williams, and all the other messed-up genius poets out there," added the actress, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 2006 for "The Constant Gardener."
The surprise winner of the night was US playwright Katori Hall, 28, whose work "The Mountaintop" won the best new play award, beating off stiff competition from popular shows "Enron" and "Jerusalem."
Her play follows Martin Luther King the night before his assassination. She is the first black female playwright to win the award.
"I want to thank the London audience for teaching me that this was a story that needed to be heard around the world," she said.
Mark Rylance was named best actor for his role as anti-hero Johnny "Rooster" Byron in "Jerusalem", the second time he has won the award.
And Maggie Smith was recognised for her outstanding contribution to the theatre.
Her cinematic career has included two Oscars, including best actress in 1970 for the "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie". More recently, she has played Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films.