A graduate of Tampa’s Howard W. Blake High School with a Master Certification in Theatre Arts, Newt Rametta’s first taste of out-of-school performance was with the cosplay collective Crazy Random Happenstance.
Rametta next appeared in Carrollwood Players (community theater) productions of All My Sons (as Anne) and Agnes of God (as Agnes), using the name Nina Rametta.
As gothic novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in Creating Monsters, the current LAB Theater Project show, Rametta is in practically every scene. Owen Robertson’s three-hour historical drama is based on exhaustive research into the woman who wrote Frankenstein, and her relationships with Percy Shelley (her husband-to-be) and Lord Byron, the great 19th century British poets, during the summer of 1816.
“I had first heard this story, about the incident at Villa Diodati, when I was in high school,” Rametta recalls. “I took an AP literature class and we spent half the semester just talking about the background of how Frankenstein came to be.
“I remember being a little queer kid in high school going ‘Wow! All these people in the 1800s were bisexual. And they were crazy, and had these open relationships?’ I was just stunned.”
Fast forward to 2022. Roberston, LAB’s founder and artistic director, was getting Creating Monsters on its figurative feet.
“So I knew the story well,” adds Rametta, “and when I saw the casting call, it was like my heart just exploded: I have to be involved with this project.”
Rametta’s 2021 return to the stage in Studio Grand Central’s Plot Points in Our Sexual Development, after several years working as a costumer in Orlando, was followed by a turn in Jobsite’s Romeo and Juliet (as Newt Miranda).
In both shows, Rametta played men.
“I’ve been non-binary as long as I’ve had the words to describe it,” Rametta says. “I’ve always felt this way about myself. But it’s important to me, as a performer, to be a shape-shifter. I like playing these male roles, and I like playing these female roles, too. It’s fun to me. Performing is fun to me.”
Lately, since Rametta has been onstage so much, they have been wondering if audiences have “caught on” that they are a person in transition.
“I feel very special to be able to portray trans people. To play Theo in Plot Points, to play Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet. To be such an iconic author as Mary Shelley, it means a lot to me. The fact that I can be perceived as all these people and it’s believable.”
After this show, Rametta will step into the role of Jonathan Harker in the Jobsite production of Dracula.
Much of Mary Shelley’s dialogue in Creating Monsters – and certainly the situations in which she finds herself – were taken, verbatim, from the author’s own diaries and letters.
It is a moving drama, made even more powerful because Mary, in demanding her artistic independence from the domineering Percy, was fighting the norms of her time. And succeeding.
There’s a parallel there for Newt Rametta and their desire to be perceived as an artist, first and foremost.
They were inspired, Rametta says, by the story of non-binary actor Lachlan Watson from the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
“I saw photos of them in a fashion magazine; they’d already had top surgery.
“I remember looking at them and going wow, it is possible to get these kinds of jobs and just be who you are, as a human being.”
Tickets for Creating Monsters are here.