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Local thespian Katie Rushing takes the Houston stage once again with Wake Up, Mama—A Pregnant Pause, the anticipated sequel to her sold-out semi-autobiographical production on motherhood, Wake Up, Mama—Part I.

Rushing wrote A Pregnant Pause after the success of Part I, which premiered in October 2015 at the Firefly Studio Theater at Ecclesia. Drawing from her own experiences as the mother of four-year-old Radley and two-year-old Willie, she penned another play that touches upon universal obstacles that new parents constantly face. 

Just as she did in Part I, Rushing will portray Maggie Sabey, a pregnant mother of two children who strives to maintain a “perfect balance” while juggling her pregnancy, family and personal happiness. Whether it be her sister’s wedding, school volunteer projects or her everlasting adjustments to motherhood, the protagonist faces several new challenges in her voyage to self discovery—all while pregnant with her third child.

“[Maggie] hits a wall when her toddler is playing with his poo—which is something that happened in my real life,” Rushing says. “The circumstances are funny and real. People are like, 'Oh yeah, that's happened with my kid.'”

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Davis Rushing as Ryan Sabey and Katie Rushing as Maggie Sabey in Wake Up, Mama–Part I

Image: Deji Osinulu

Additionally, Maggie continues to evolve through her relationships with the play’s supporting characters, like her husband and younger sister. Rather than rely on verbose monologues for Maggie, Rushing made a conscious decision to incorporate more conversations between the characters throughout this sequel. More specifically, Rushing wanted to focus more on Maggie’s relationship with her sister and the latter’s personal journey as a young 20-something woman.

“It’s never a one-woman show,” Rushing explains. “[The story] certainly has matured into a more interesting dialogue [between characters] to reveal what is happening in the story.” 

Despite being the playwright, lead actress, director and producer of A Pregnant Pause, Rushing was not overwhelmed those pressures. Instead, she enjoyed “giving actors creative freedom to develop their characters” and experiencing the collaborative nature of the work.

“I relied on my theater training and drew upon what I would experience as an actor in order to help my cast,” she says.

Ultimately, the unpredictability of her own pregnancy became Rushing’s biggest test while coordinating this production. But despite the initial self doubt, Rushing thankfully does not regret taking on this theatrical endeavor while with child. 

“It was a personal question of trusting my intuition and going forward one step at a time,” she explains.

As the show’s premiere night nears, Rushing looks forward to seeing how audiences will connect with Maggie’s journey. Although A Pregnant Pause is obviously about motherhood and child-bearing, Rushing’s story of self-acceptance, balance and growth can touch upon many lives outside of parenthood.

“There’s a lot [in the play] about slowing down and getting clear about what our priorities are, and what we’re doing to move forward,” Rushing emphasizes. “We can create this life that we want to live. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves, but we have to take a breath.”

Wake Up, Mama—A Pregnant Pause premieres August 10 and runs thru August 13. $27. Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH), 3400 Main St. 713-521-4533. matchouston.org

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