Marking its Anniversary, “The Day They Shot John Lennon”

Marking its Anniversary, “The Day They Shot John Lennon”

On a December night 30 years ago, outside The Dakota apartment building in New York City, Mark David Chapman shot famed musician and former Beatle John Lennon as he and his wife Yoko Ono returned home.

“These are the kinds of events where you remember where you were when you heard. Whether it’s Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, or John Lennon, it’s something about the cult of celebrity that brings us together in unexpected ways,” said Terry Klenk, theatre professor at Santa Fe College. “It crosses generations and brings people together for that moment of consciousness.”

It is exactly this moment of collective consciousness that is the subject of James Mclure’s 1984 play The Day They Shot John Lennon. In honor of the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death, Theatre Santa Fe  will be performing this play in E Auditorium, under Klenk’s direction. 

Audiences will have five chances to catch the production, which runs nightly at 8 p.m. from Nov. 10-13 with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 13. The tickets cost $5 for the general public but are free for Santa Fe students, staff, and senior citizens. Due to mature language and subject matter, however, children are discouraged from attending.

The play portrays the moments immediately following Lennon’s death in 1980, as devotees from all walks of life gathered in front of the apartment doorstep where Lennon spent his last seconds alive. Vietnam veterans turned pickpockets, yuppies fresh from Woodstock, an aspiring comic, hormone-crazed high school kids, and a confused gentleman looking for the stoop where “Jack Lemmon” died all cross paths in this part-drama, part-comedy.

Despite the expanse of time that separates today from the events surrounding Lennon’s passing, Klenk insists the themes of the play remain relevant today.

“It was actually students in my dramatic literature class who were interested in John Lennon and made me think of this play,” said Klenk. “The use of the Vietnam veterans is distinctly eerie in this play because it echoes a lot of the same issues we face with our veterans returning  from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The play is lead by a cast of nine, eight from Santa Fe’s Theatre Ensemble class and one, Blake Harrison, recruited from the faculty itself. The entirely student-designed production, drawing from stage craft classes and the talents of several Fine Arts scholarship students, has particularly impressed Klenk.

“I think I have one of the best student set designs that I’ve ever had here at Santa Fe,” he said.

The Day They Shot John Lennon proves to be a bittersweet occasion for all involved, as it marks one of the last productions to be held in E Auditorium before the switch to the new stage in the soon-to-be-opened Fine Arts Hall.

 “We did a play here called Kennedy’s Children 18 years ago when I arrived, dealing with some of the same issues, so I see this as a kind of book end to where I began with the theatre of Santa Fe. It’s a farewell hoorah,” said Klenk.

When asked about what he hopes audiences take away from the play, Klenk finds himself referring to John Lennon himself:

“To imagine John Lennon’s message, to imagine a world where all people can come together. Especially with current events, like the Quran burning, it’s a timely message.”

~ This press release was written by Allison Griner, Communication Specialist, College Relations


Professor Terry Klenk, 352-395-5092 or

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