Interview with Dmitriy


Interview with Dmitry Yakubov, Director of “Splinter,”

Offering an Inside Look at the World of Actors and the Creation of the Play

“After a glorious Chicagoland premiere of Splinter: A Romantic Comedy in Wheeling, IL, the play will be performed again at Puth Family Theater of Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston, IL at 1702 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 on Saturday April 29th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday April 30th at 6:00 p.m.”

Marc May: Recently, the Chicagoland premiere of the play Splinter, a romantic comedy based on French drama masterpieces, took place in the theater of Krug Community Circle in Wheeling, IL in March 2023. The show was a resounding success and enjoyed by many people. I want to ask you a couple of questions about how the play was created and its impact on audiences. Can you tell me more?

Dmitriy Yakubov: The performance was absolutely wonderful. It was a real discovery for the audience. This play is based on the masterpieces of French drama, but told in a new way. This is a very bright, light, romantic comedy that will not leave anyone indifferent. It is about kindness, [light- remove this word, it was already used and too many things in the list], friendship, fidelity, love for the theater, and creativity. These topics are close to everyone. Each of us is a creative person somewhere inside, and dreams of something. ‘I want to dream, I want to be an optimist, to strive for my dream’. We all strive for our dreams, and this romantic comedy speaks to that.

Why “Splinter”?

D.Y.: Great question. It’s actually a metaphor for love of theater. One of the characters uses this metaphor when describing other people’s feelings for the theater, and the “itch” to perform, and to dream. It is interesting that he is just not a very dreamy person– for him the theater is a routine, a daily business. But there are people for whom the theater is something more. A “splinter” under the nail, this symbolizes this dream– that restlessness, that endless wanting for a dream that other heroes have, but he does not. It is the conflict between pragmatism and dreams.

Usually a splinter is associated with some kind of hindrance that you want to get rid of….

D.Y.: This is also true. The fact is that, in a sense, a thorn under the nail prevents people from accepting reality as it is. People live inside their dreams and don’t want to see the real world. They love the theater so much that they are ready to sacrifice some of their life’s blessings. To sacrifice this very reality that surrounds them, if only to stay in this world of a beautiful, creative and bright dream– the dream of the theater. Dreams create a kind of temple, where the main thing is creativity, and instead of a deity, a love for the theater. The theater is like a guardian angel for these people. And at the same time, the theater is a thorn under the nail. Yes, it hurts, sometimes a person dreams and is not able to achieve a dream for some reason, that’s why it hurts him. The pain does not let you forget about the theater. Love for the theater is also an aching feeling. The heroes of the play love the theater in spite of, and to the detriment of, common sense. It would seem that if they forget about it, they would live a different life, more real, more mundane, maybe everything would turn out for the better for them and their affairs would go much differently. But no, no! They strive for this dream. They are restless and full of faith.

For some, the theater has never been a thorn in the side, it was just a business, there was a check in your pocket, there was a rehearsal, there was a routine. There were many things, but there were no splinters. There was no love, or torments of creativity and dreams. And for some, it’s the other way around. No theater, no rehearsals, nothing! But there is a dream, there is restlessness and a thirst for creativity, which is similar to this very thorn, after which the performance is named. Splinter is a dream that cannot be forgotten.

What is the history of the play?

D.Y.: I received my degree in Directing back in 1997. And a couple of years later I staged this performance for the first time– a slightly different version than it is now. It was more designed for the European public, with European actors.

The premiere took place in 2000. The European premiere was in March, and its Chicagoland premiere was in March 2023. After 23 years, I decided to stage this performance again. In Europe, following the premiere, the performance went on for almost 20 years. The cast only changed when the actors outgrew their role.

How long is the play?

This performance is one act, and it runs for more than an hour. It requires a lot of commitment from the actors, and a lot of concentration. You need to keep the action from start to finish. After all, we are talking about actors, creative people, all professionals in their field.

How did you select these actors?

As a director, I am very demanding. In life, I am not a very demanding person, I am very soft and diplomatic. But as for creativity, I am very tough and principled. I believe it’s better to bet nothing at all than to compromise. I was looking for the right combination exactly until the moment when I wanted to exclaim, ‘Here! It’s them! This is my show!’ New actors won in a very serious competition. About fifty people came to my audition, but I chose only them, because it was in them that I saw this play “Splinter.” The play stars Amy Beth Hart, George Dougherty and K.C. Khan.

How do you want audiences to feel when they see it?

D.Y.: This is a kind, light, romantic comedy. You will laugh and be a little sad. You will get a huge boost of optimism. This play is about love for the theater, about friendship and fidelity, and about the ability to dream. This is a sensitive and touching story about the theatrical world, in which, at times, it is difficult to distinguish what is an illusion and what is reality. And only human feelings remain unchanged here.

What is something peculiar about this performance– what makes it stand out from other productions?

D. Y.: The key to this performance is through the subtleties of psychological interaction. There are no broad brush strokes here. It’s all about the inside, how the actor feels toward another person; how he feels about his own lost hopes, mistakes in the past, and actions that he sees here and now. This subtle psychological game is the essence, the backbone of this performance. And it makes the moments funny and sad. The characters are naive in some ways and deep in others. And they are constantly looking for that creative spark. And someone, on the contrary, fences off this creativity and wants to finish all this as soon as possible and pull this very splinter out from under the nail in order to be more realistic and live in a calm, understandable and accessible world.

Is this production about the theatrical world? About behind the scenes?

D.Y.: Yes. This is an interesting opportunity for everyone to look at the life of the theater behind the scenes, as French playwrights saw it. Take a look at how the actors communicate with each other, how they interact, how they argue, how they compete, how they experience, and what they dream about. How funny and touching it is, and sometimes it looks sad– this is one of the semantic components of the production “Splinter.”

This story was originally aimed at the French public. But America is a completely different world.

D.Y.: You are absolutely right. But there are common themes, there are eternal themes, in demand by everyone and understandable to everyone. Love, friendship, fidelity, betrayal, creativity, dreams– these topics know no borders, countries nor continents.


The aging actress dreams of returning to the theater, making new friends and losing old ones. Elizabeth is unrestrainedly devoted to her only passion– the stage. In it, she finds the strength to live, feel, love, and hope. Theater is in her blood. It is like a splinter that does not let you forget about yourself, or your dreams.

The action of this poetic and poignant performance takes place in a small run-down hotel. Next to the former (or maybe just failed) actress are two men. One is a lover to whom a girlfriend is already a burden. The other is an uncouth village boy. With the help of the main character, he can approach the alluring and hitherto inaccessible world of the theater. In the fictional world of Elizabeth, touching, naive and magnificent dreams are born and die, and the soul of a delightful dreamer and woman blossoms.

“After a glorious Chicagoland premiere of Splinter: A Romantic Comedy in Wheeling, IL, the play will be performed again at Puth Family Theater of Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston, IL at 1702 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 on Saturday April 29th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday April 30th at 6:00 p.m.”