Both Sternhagen and Smith have previously received Obie Awards for individual performances. Together their joint careers represent some 120 years of creative contribution to our national culture. Each, this year, took on a major role in a brand-new play Off-Broadway, Smith in Sam Shepard’s Heartless (Pershing Square Signature Center) and Sternhagen in Liz Flahive’s The Madrid (Manhattan Theatre Club).
Founded in 1955 by Voice cultural editor Jerry Tallmer, The Village Voice Obie Awards annually honor the best of Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. Unlike most theatre awards, the Obies do not publicize nominations or employ rigid categories. In the "conviction that creativity is not competitive, the judges select outstanding artists and productions and may even invent new categories to reward artistic merit," according to press notes.