Following a great show-business tradition, actress Danielle Moné Truitt is getting her show together and taking it on the road.
The one-woman show “3: Black Girl Blues,” which Truitt conceived with Anthony D’Juan (he wrote the script and directs the production) has a limited, two-performance run this weekend at Capital Stage. Then it truly goes on the road for its New York City debut in September at United Solo, the world’s largest solo theater festival.
Though not exactly a new work, the production sits in the middle of Capital Stage’s annual Playwright’s Revolution series of new play readings (six new plays read between July 28 and Aug 6.
Truitt and D’Juan met doing the 2005 B Street Family Series production of “Beggar’s Strike.” Even though he had only heard about her at the time, D’Juan referred the CSUS graduate to director Buck Busfield. Truitt went on to work often for B Street, including on the 2010 one-woman show “Neat” by Charlayne Woodard. Truitt has lived in Los Angeles with her husband, Kelvin Truitt, since 2009. They have two young sons.
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The Sacramento-based D’Juan has written original works for California Musical Theatre and B Street, produced his own solo shows and successfully performed and directed for Capital Stage (“The Mountaintop”), yet the playwright seems underrepresented in Sacramento professional theater. He viewed “3” as an opportunity to create something for a friend looking to create opportunities for herself.
Truitt had decided on creating a show as far back as 2007 when she found a bald spot on her head.
“I was freaking out. Why is my hair falling out? I was feeling so insecure,” Truitt said. “It just made me realize how attached I was to my hair and how easy it was to get attached to things that don’t really matter. I started thinking, ‘I want to do a one-woman play around self-esteem.’”
She called D’Juan and asked him to write it. They went through numerous ideas, but nothing clicked for several years.
In 2010 D’Juan, living in Oregon, took a different approach. He wrote it quickly and sent the draft to Truitt. She didn’t call him back.
“I just read the first four pages and I thought ‘What is this?’ I am not playing this stereotypical ghetto girl,” Truitt said. “I didn’t read it all. I didn’t respond, and he didn’t respond. We just left it in limbo.”
At the time, she acknowledges now, she was at a low period in her life even though she was working at the so-called “happiest place on Earth.”
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Truitt had joined the cast of the Academy Award-nominated “The Princess and The Frog,” performing the body movements and facial expressions for animators of Princess Tiana, Disney’s first African American princess. Ultimately she created the character’s persona and essence. (The character was voiced for film by Anika Noni Rose.) Truitt played the role in a Disneyland live-action show.
After the birth of her first son, the idea of the play “was this burning sensation in my chest,” Truitt said. This time she read the whole play – three interrelated scenes with three different characters, set in south Sacramento.
“Once I got to the end of ‘Keisha’ (the first section), I thought ‘This is amazing,’ I was in tears at the end.”
Truitt quickly set up a production in Los Angeles, and in June 2012 she and D’Juan produced it in Sacramento at the Artisan Theatre.
Producing and performing the play has been a form of therapy for Truitt, who has a realistic view of herself and the entertainment world.
“What I can control is us putting our heart and soul into our own work, our own things,” she said. “When I get an audition for a television series, I give it my all. I have hope this could be something for me, but if not – I still have an awesome family, I still have friends, I still have ‘3: Black Girl Blues.’ I choose not to focus on my lack. I choose to focus on abundance.”
Truitt’s sense of purpose led her to apply to United Solo even though the deadline had passed so they could only be placed on a waiting list. The festival called back after seeing a video of a Los Angeles performance and gave “3” a featured slot.
“It’s a dream for me to be able to perform on Broadway, and the first time I ever perform in New York, it will be in my own show,” Truitt said.
“I’m excited, and I’m terrified,” D’Juan said. “I feel opportunity. I’m curious at how New York will respond to this play. We’re performing in front a bunch of people we don’t know at all. We don’t have a safety net anymore. I think it will prove we don’t need one.”
3: Black Girl Blues
What: A one-woman play written by Anthony D’Juan, conceived and performed by Danielle Moné Truitt
Where: Capital Stage, 2215 J St., Sacramento
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 1, 2 p.m. Aug. 2
Information: 916-995-5464; capstage.org