Reflecting on what's changed since she began her career, Smith has one gripe: "There's not enough time for rehearsal anymore. It's been continually squeezed during my years as an actress. And time is an ingredient that cannot be substituted for, so that's hard on the work and on the quality of what can be realized."

Asked the same question, Sternhagen answers, "I think people are doing the best they can. It's always hard to put plays on. So many go see movies or watch television, and to go to the theater takes effort. And if they have made an effort to come and see the play, it's quite wonderful because you're actually sharing an experience with them."

What would Sternhagen tell a young actor hoping to follow in her footsteps? "If you want to do it, just do it wherever you can. That's the only thing."

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