An Interview with NYPR Playwright Zoe Jovanovich

Can you describe a theater moment that particularly inspired you? 

A theatre moment that particularly inspired me was back when I was in undergrad. I was seeing a local production of The Adoration of Dora by Lojo Simon. Without giving too much away, there was a moment where all the actresses on stage recreated the portrait of Picasso’s Guernica, but you don’t realize it right away until a very specific “reveal” moment. I remember staring at all these women and thinking: this is the type of theatre I want to create.

Favorite movies? t.v. shows? books? video games?

Asking me for favorites is impossible because I have a laundry list. I love any and all mediums of storytelling because each of them have different strengths as well as restrictions. It’s fascinating to study up on them all. I will say I was super influenced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was a kid. For now I’ll just name the stories I don’t think as many people have read and/or experienced, because I’m shameless like that: the Deadly Class comics, The Expanse (books and the TV show, they are both brilliant in their own ways), and any fantasy novel by Brent Weeks. Also, I’m super into manga and anime, and regardless of if someone is or not I believe that everyone should read Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. She creates an incredible coming of age story in the wake of political corruption, and ethical and moral debates between religion and science. What’s not to love? Is it obvious that I’m a huge nerd yet? Everyone got that, right?

What inspired you to write the play for NYPR?

There is a pretty long backstory to my inspiration for Daughter of God, but I will try to make it short. I have a very different relationship with religion. I went to a Catholic school for nine years, but neither of my parents are religious. There was a time where I was probably the most “religious” in the household. However, through my own personal decisions, experience, and confusion over the years, I gradually drifted away from religion on my own. I have a huge respect for faith, spirituality, and beliefs, because overall I think mosr of them are ultimately about becoming a better person. What I take issue with is the institution and administration behind religion that is often used to put down others who are deemed “different.” When I was religious, I secretly wanted to believe that my god had a sense of humor. Looking back that was probably pretty blasphemous. In a way, this script is my playful response to what I was taught in that school. 

Did you listen to specific music while writing the play? If so, what was it?

Whenever I write, I love playing the score to Akatsuki no Yona (ENG: Yona of the Dawn) in the background. There’s a piece for every mood. It’s one of my favorite manga series, and the music in the anime adaptation is beautiful. For Daughter of God specifically, two key songs would be “Paradise” by Coldplay and “Way Down We Go” by Kaleo.

What was the first play you ever wrote? What inspired you to write it?

The first play I ever wrote was for a one-act festival in high school. It was about a ghost girl and the human boy who moved into her house. My hope was for it to be a dark comedy about the different ways myself and the people around me dealt with losing loved ones growing up.