In a collaboration of creative input and dynamic artistry, Brown Baby, by Carlos Morton, will world premiere this Friday at 8 p.m. in the UCSB Performing Arts Theatre. The play deals primarily with the ethically ambiguous issue of illegal immigration at the border between Mexico and San Diego, the desperation of poor, Mexican mothers trying to ensure the safety of their children, and those who would take advantage of these women and their naiveté.

Brown Baby was written around 1987 and was shoved “in a filing cabinet where it sat fermenting for fifteen years,” cast member Alex Knox said. As rehearsals progressed, Morton – the Director of the Center for Chicano Studies and a Professor of Dramatic Arts at UCSB – tinkered with many parts of his play. A lot of the show’s evolution was cooperative and involved the input of the actors and director, as well as Morton himself, making it a performance of incredible teamwork and dedication. “It’ll be exciting to see it so hot off the press; I just hope it will resonate with people,” Knox said.

Brown Baby features many talented actors, each tackling very serious subject matter and prevailing. Victoria Ramos plays the young widow Maria Lujan with a strength and a vulnerability that makes her both a character to respect and to love. Knox plays Bill Sanderson, the would-be father of baby Daniel/Olegario. Bill’s role in the play is particularly interesting because of the journey that he goes through. “At first, he’s not crazy about adopting a child because he wants it to be a part of him, his flesh and blood,” Knox said. Once he agrees that adoption is the best choice for him and for his wife, Lori (played by Lacey Morris), he meets Daniel and falls in love with him immediately.

Bill has been through so much that, at the prospect of losing his new son, his emotions begin to cloud his judgment and compromise the morals by which he would normally abide. While he wants so badly to preserve his relationship with Lori, he can’t take another loss and feels betrayed by her willingness to give up the child they’ve waited for. On the other hand, we can empathize with Lori because, as a woman who has herself lost a child, she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she knew that the child was unwillingly taken from its mother. “To be a mother is, I think, for most women, a desire in their lives, and to not be able to have a kid is a reality that hits many. We feel for Maria and Lori because we want them both to keep the baby,” Ramos said.

Carlos Pe