Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association

Megan “Deets” Culley is a New York based Sound Designer and Composer. She graduated in 2016 with an MFA in Production Design and Technology (Concentration: Sound Design) from the Ohio University Division of Theater program.  Megan’s work has been heard in New York at NYTW, HERE Center, NYMF, 59E59, the Public Theater, the Flea, and more. Outside of New York, Megan has designed at Weathervane Playhouse (Columbus), Plays and Players Theatre (Philadelphia), and Dobama Theatre (Cleveland) among others.  In 2018 Megan Culley was elected the Early Career Representative of the TSDCA Executive Board. Read below to discover her background in Speech Pathology, what film scores we should all be listening to, and how a gaming mouse can speed up a tech!

What are you working on at the moment?

A few upcoming projects include Scraps at the Flea, revolt.she said.revolt again. at Dobama Theatre, and The Color Purple at Theatre Horizon.

What is the most exciting thing happening this season that you are not working on?

I’m really excited about the Prom, as well as the productions of Lynn Nottage plays at Signature.

Where were you born? Where do you live now? 

I was born and raised in Cleveland, and I’m very proud of it. I probably mention being from Cleveland within about one minute of meeting someone. I moved to NYC almost two years ago but go to Cleveland frequently to visit and pick up my favorite beers to bring back.

Describe one of your most successful collaborations in the theater. How or why was it successful?

When I designed Inanimate at the Flea, the whole creative team was female. The Director and I clicked so well, and the Lighting Designer and I often had the same ideas without even consulting each other first. It was really cool to work with such collaborative and open artists.

Who or what makes up your support structure?

My parents, two younger sisters, friends, and my girlfriend make it possible for me to pursue my career. They understand my insane schedule and the times when I can’t be around or talk as much.

What is your favourite piece of music at the moment?

I’m a huge film score nerd. Right now, I’m loving Moniker’s score for Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The new score for the Incredibles 2 by my favorite composer, Michael Giacchino, is also in heavy rotation at the moment.

Name a pet production peeve.

Full team meetings that should be side (small group) meetings.

What is your favourite meal during or before tech?

I love Greek food, so probably a gyro and some baba ganoush.

Do you play an instrument?

I play the guitar, bass, piano, percussion, mandolin, ukulele, and I’m trying to learn some basic violin in my free time.

How old were you when you knew you wanted to be involved in theatrical sound?

22. I was finishing my undergrad degree in Speech Language Pathology but felt that I was being pulled in another direction. My sister and mother suggested Sound Design since I am a musician who loves theatre. After researching more, I fell in love with the idea and applied to grad school. 

Does your family understand what you do? 

They do! We have been subscribers to Playhouse Square my whole life and I’ve been going to shows since I could sit in a seat. They instilled this passion in me and are always so excited to see my shows.

Did you have a sound design or composition mentor? If so, how did they help or guide you?

My graduate school mentors were John Salutz and TSDCA member Chet Miller. They knew me before I knew what an XLR was and were so patient and caring. They supported me and gave me the confidence to grow as an artist.

Where do you find inspiration?

I watch a lot of film and television specifically listening for the sound. I also spend a lot of time analyzing scores for a podcast that I contribute to. I also try to go see theatre whenever I have time. I love hearing what other designers do.

Tell us about this podcast!

It’s called Sideshow Sound Radio and it focuses on film and television scores. It’s basically me and a bunch of other nerds gushing about and critiquing modern and classic scores. I just became a cohost on the main show and we kicked it off with a very contentious episode about the music of the DC Comics Extended Universe.

Was there a piece or type of gear or program that revolutionized how you work?

A few years back, I bought a gaming mouse with a bunch of different click options and side buttons that you can program with shortcuts. It sped up my workflow and I don’t go to tech without it.

If you couldn’t have a career in a field related to this one, what would you want to do?

If I didn’t end up in Sound, I would have gone on into Speech Language Pathology. My whole family is still passionate about it and my mom owns a private practice. I worked for several summers at a camp for children with developmental disabilities and loved every second of it. SLP includes a whole lot of sound and creativity, so I think I would have still been very happy.

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