Polina Minchuk Macklin '12 is sharing her technical theater expertise with Adelphi students and alumni.
Polina Minchuk Macklin ’12 started working on Broadway right out of college. Today, she holds one of the biggest theater jobs out there: associate production manager at the Lincoln Center Theater, which produces seven or eight shows a year.
In her position, Macklin is in charge of taking designs from paper to stage and maintaining the staging for the run of the show. She lives unions and contracts and budgets, working with the companies that build and paint the sets, the props, the costumes. She rents the lighting and sound equipment. Her duties don’t end until the show closes. It’s a big job and she couldn’t be happier.
“I love being a boss,” Macklin said. “I love being busy and I love being responsible. It just gives me a thrill.”
She also loves helping theater students and young professionals to build careers in theater too. With a demanding career and a new baby, she’s cut back to three mentees. But she’s had as many as seven.
“I like to pay it forward,” she said. “I love it if I can help somebody out, if I can help them to be the best version of themselves and give them a chance to succeed.”
An Adelphi-Lincoln Center full circle
Matthew Pezzulich ’22 is one of those mentees she’s guided. Now based in New York City as director, designer and stage manager, he met Polina during his first year at Adelphi when she led a résumé workshop in his Research, Rehearsal and Production class. She was the scenic designer for his award-winning thesis production of Antigone. And she got him his first professional off-Broadway contract—while he was still an undergraduate.
“I worked as a props assistant on Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of Epiphany,” Pezzulich said. “That led to me working as a production assistant on Becky Nurse of Salem the following fall, two of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life.”
Paying it forward
Macklin knows the importance of getting work in professional companies as an undergraduate—she interned twice at the legendary Shakespeare in the Park. And she knows the importance of mentoring because of the guidance she got from Sarah Martin, her scenic design professor, and Maggie Lally ’82, professor of theater and now associate dean of faculty programs.
As she learned technique and how to think about a production conceptually and explored what kind of theater professional she wanted to be, Macklin also learned how to navigate conflict with others while working on a show. That came from Martin, she said, who taught her how to listen.
Lally taught her to lead with empathy. “So instead of walking into a room feeling like everybody’s against you, or somebody is a real jerk—even if they are real jerks,” Macklin said, “I think, ‘They’re having a bad day,’ or ‘This is their life experience.'”
Today, Macklin meets regularly with the students she mentors and talks to them as often as weekly. Some, like Pezzulich, find significant work through her. Some graduate and move on; others stay in touch as they need to. Sometimes they become friends and colleagues.
In addition, Macklin and other theater alumni created The Bridge Affinity Group three years ago to support students and create opportunities for them to connect with alumni.
“I am very lucky to be one of the many Adelphi alumni who considers Polina a mentor and friend,” said Pezzulich, who was a grateful beneficiary of The Bridge. “She has such expansive knowledge, an endless reverberating heart and a determination to guide others towards success that is incomparable. She has been a beacon in the early stages of my career that I am forever grateful for.”