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NMSU Creative Media Institute's first graduate premieres first play in New York City

Carlos Cisco was the first to earn a bachelor's in creative media at New Mexico State University. Now, the College of Art and Sciences alumnus is about to premiere his first professional production, "The Last Days," in New York City.

Man sitting, leaning forward with chin resting on right hand.
NMSU CMI alumnus Carlos Cisco will premiere his first professional production, 'The Last Days' next month in New York City. (Submitted photo)

The full-length drama will debut at 7 p.m. March 7, at the 133rd Street Arts Center in Harlem. The EndTimes Bunker production is part of Zombie March Madness, a month-long celebration of all things zombie. The show will run Thursdays through Saturdays until March 23.

"People are actually being paid to say my words out loud, so that's pretty cool," Cisco said. "I'm really thankful for Amy Lanasa and my other professors at the CMI; they are super smart."

The bachelor's in creative media at NMSU was established in 2006. Alphabetically, Cisco was the first in his class to receive the degree in 2008.

"I am always proud when my students graduate and are able to use the tools and skills they learned in their program to pursue their creative goals," said Lanasa, a screen writing assistant professor at NMSU. "Carlos is a stellar example of a student who graduated and wasted no time putting his tools to work and achieving his objective to be a professional writer. He's a great example of the kind of path we hope all our alumni will take post-graduation."

Cisco describes his play, "The Last Days," as "about four people just trying to survive till the next day amidst a zombie apocalypse. When one of their own comes home with an infectious bite, he refuses to tell anyone. As his health deteriorates their social structure collapses around them. When he passes, his zombie becomes an avatar for the remaining survivors to project their guilt and fears on as they descend into the darkest reaches of their own minds."

Inspired by his own dark days, Cisco wrote the play while attending graduate school at Florida State University in 2010 after suffering a painful three-month period that included a bout of depression.

"My mom was diagnosed with cancer, but thankfully recovered, a childhood friend was diagnosed with AIDS, and another friend who had been HIV positive since he was 18 hanged himself," Cisco said. "Instead of getting therapy, I let myself flirt with madness during many 3 a.m. writing sessions, and this is what was belched forth."

Cisco said the play had one previous reading on the west coast before he was introduced to the theater company in New York. The reading, which was produced by the Red Dog Squadron, a nonprofit theater company in Los Angeles, starred Lizzy Caplan "Party Down," Steve Howey "Shameless," Tim Omundson "Psyche" and Mackenzie Astin.

"It was also entered inside the Ford new play fellowship, but we didn't end up landing a slot," he said. "It kind of sat on the shelf until a friend sent me a link to the EndTimes Productions, which seemed right in line with me and my play's sensibilities."

EndTimes Productions is an independent theater/film production company founded in New York City in 2006. The website describes the production house's focus as being on "work that is dark and satiric, with an underlying element of social commentary. Incorporating dance, music, vaudeville and comedy, they produce high-energy, entertaining theater that is aimed at a wider audience than more traditional forms."

"It's been a huge pleasure on my part working with them," said Cisco, who plans to return the theater company for the premiere. "They really embraced me, and made me feel like family when I went out to New York City for the first rehearsals."

Cisco, who believes that punctuality is the key to success, has entered several other works into various film festivals and screenwriting contests since graduation. He also recently completed the National Hispanic Media Coalition's television writing fellowship. Currently, he is working in a paid position to develop and write a pilot based on a documentary.

"Don't be afraid of your own darkness," Cisco said. "Accept it. Embrace it. Learn from it. You can't know true beauty without first staring into the abyss. Allow yourself to hurt. Just make sure you come out on the other end of it."

For EndTimes ticket information visit their website at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/1921 . For more information about CMI degree plans visit http://cmi.nmsu.edu/.