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Shakespearean Serendipity

By Goodley Jones

My introduction to the captivating world of William Shakespeare was ushered in with a high school staging of Hamlet, performed for our peers and parents by our spirited drama club. Every aspect of the production enchanted me—the eloquent language, the resplendent costumes, the sumptuous set designs. 

Since then, I’ve immersed myself in various cinematic renditions of Hamlet, from Laurence Olivier to Leonardo DiCaprio and Kenneth Branagh, perpetually drawn to the timeless allure of the Bard’s myriad masterpieces.

The Captivating World of William ShakespeareOn the mantle of my home in Buffalo, New York, a delicate ceramic model of Shakespeare’s own picturesque abode serves as a reminder of my abiding admiration. Though I have never set foot on English soil, my yearning to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and to witness the Royal Shakespeare Company bring these celebrated works to life has burned like a secret flame in my heart. 

Year after year, I faithfully order the Royal Shakespeare Company calendar, each edition a work of art in itself. The forthcoming year’s iteration, aptly titled “The Tragedies,” was pre-ordered months in advance and I eagerly anticipated its arrival, as always.

Finally, it made its way to my doorstep. I delved into its pages, relishing the splendor of the photographs that captured the essence of actors and actresses in their dramatic poses. My desire to embark on this theatrical pilgrimage stayed in my thoughts, even though the cost of such a sojourn remained outside the realm of my modest means.

Just as my wistfulness swelled, amidst wrestling with reality, my phone chimed. It was my friend Lanny, with exhilarating news. Due to her exceptional achievements as the top-selling real estate agent in her company, she had been awarded a remarkable prize—a trip for two to England, complete with an exclusive tour of Stratford-upon-Avon! 

In her generosity, she extended an invitation for me to accompany her on this over-the-pond adventure. Needless to say, I accepted immediately, filled with equal measures of gratitude and astonishment at this serendipitous turn of events.

Birthplace of William Shakespeare in Stratford upon AvonLanny and I delighted in every moment of the trip as we ventured ever closer to the hallowed grounds of Shakespeare’s cottage. Upon our arrival, we were crestfallen to discover portions of the Bard’s ancient abode were closed for remodeling. We lingered near the cottage’s hedge, exchanging our shared disappointment with a kindred spirit—a petite, elderly woman, attired in modest gray.

It turned out the woman was a local historian, privy to the secrets of the cottage. Displaying sudden generosity, she revealed her personal key and unlocked the doors to Shakespeare’s dwelling for us, whereupon she took us on a private tour. 

I marveled at the cosmic orchestration that had aligned the timing of Lanny’s call with my contemplation of the newly arrived calendar, and now this sudden propelling of our path into the presence of this benevolent strangerwho literally possessed the key to unlock our dreams.

As we concluded our extraordinary sojourn into his very home, I was reminded that the simplest twists of fate can morph into the most remarkable journeys. 

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