CAMBRIDGE, NY — Growing up, John Hadden had a feeling that his father knew more about politics than the average individual. After various debates about the Vietnam War, Cold War, hippies and other issues concerning America, Hadden realized that those topics were just substitutes for what imbalances remained between him and his father.
On Feb. 20 at 7 p.m., Hadden will perform "Travels With A Masked Man" at the Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education Freight Depot Theatre, based off his book, "Conversations With A Masked Man." Released just last week, Hadden writes about talks with his father and what he witnessed during his CIA career, something that couldn't be published until death.
"It's the kind of generation gap thing. A Cold War tough guy who had to survive by mostly keeping secrets and his son who thinks he'll never know what he's doing unless he gets the answers from his father," Hadden explained."
The play has been running for a few years now around New England and has even been approved by John senior himself. Hadden said that he couldn't perform in good faith until his father liked it. In the time John Sr. was passing, he urged Hadden to get the story out there.
"I spent years after he died doing research on historical figures," Hadden said. "I was extending the conversations that I've had with him as if he was still there. It's been an amazingly long emergence and even though he's not there, it feels like he's still around being part of it."
Hadden first started acknowledging his connection with his father shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because John Sr. weighed in a lot on America's relationship with the middle east and terrorism.
"He always told these incredible tall tales that were entertaining and wacko," Hadden said, "and I thought that I would love to get all these stories on paper and pass them onto my kids. But other than that, I think it was just a sort of whim." Later, John Sr. agreed to being interviewed by his son for the book.
Hadden had focused on the project for 10 years and has been mostly consumed with it for the last two while doing anything to make a living including carpentry and all spectrums of working in theatre. He was one the founding members of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass., and also served as the Artistic Director at Hubbard Hall for three years.
After sharing a piece of his life, Hadden hopes readers and viewers feel inspired to ask their parents questions before it's too late.
"What I find is, after my shows, people would talk a lot about their own parents and that was gratifying," he said. "Its about who we are on this planet and what our relationships with our parents are. They're like our Gods when we're babies and then we find that we want to take a different position in the world than they took. It's really pursuing it and really finding out and trusting the process is a good thing."
Tickets for "Travels With a Masked Man" are $15 for general admission and $5 for students online at www.hubbardhall.org, at the box office or by phone at 518-677-2495. Hadden will also be at Battenkill Books, 15 E Main St. in Cambridge, NY tonight at 7 p.m. for a curiosity forum for free. He will read excerpts from "Conversations With a Masked Man" as well as sign copies of the book and answer questions. Can't make it to Cambridge? Meet Hadden at the Northshire Bookstore at 4869 Main St. in Manchester on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.
"Now I'm wondering what will happen next and when I can finally let go of it," he questioned. "I used to think, unless I understood him, I didn't think I could. What I found out is that I didn't need to know that I could have him be there and me here and give him a tip of the hat and be on my own. I found out that I had more in me from him. I spent a lot of energy making sure I was different from him."
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.