This episode Jonah sits down with Ran’D Shine to discuss performing on the college circuit, creating inclusive environments and the rich history of African Americans in magic. Alongside being a highly sought after, award winning magician on the college circuit, Ran’D is also a magic historian and educator.
Ran’D’s journey in magic began as a graduate student attending Penn State for health education. One day he happened to walk into the student union room to see students sitting around a table doing card tricks. Soon after introducing himself, Ran’D and this group of students formed an official magic club at the university.
After completing his degree, he went to study in South Africa for a year. While there, he managed to secure a teaching position at the College of Magic in Cape Town. During his time there, he had the chance to learn from the students and the faculty while honing his own skills. Ran’D eventually returned back to America where he worked at Penn State as a researched while pursuing his PHD in public health. After a year, he decided that what he wanted to do was perform magic full time.
Representation & Inclusion
A turning point for Ran’D, a moment where he realized that he could do magic professionally, happened in university. His friend handed him a Genii magazine where Hiawatha was featured on the cover and it clicked with Ran’D that there were professional magicians who looked like him. Seeing someone who represented him in the community was an important part in him realizing he could pursue magic full time.
While they may be underrepresented in the community, there is a rich history of African American magicians who have helped pioneer magic; their stories have started to be unearthed thanks to people who have begun to conduct research and interviews into their legacies.
One of the best things you can do to encourage underrepresented people in the community to participate is to just make an environment that welcomes them. People should feel like they connect to others and pursue their passions; nobody should feel alone while they’re pursuing their passions.
The College Circuit
The college circuit is an oversaturated, highly competitive industry that tends to eat most people who enter the industry; those who make it out the other side of the initial starting phase will most likely succeed. Ran’D explains that you always have to be on your A-game, constantly working on your act, and learning how to deal with drunk college kids who will call you on your BS. However, for Ran’D, it’s all a joy for him. The constant restructuring of his show and the logistics involved with the business keep the joy of magic alive for him.
For those who want to get into the college circuit, Ran’D offers three pieces of advice:
- You have to have a solid hour act that you’ve had ring time with
- Be ready to adapt to different performance environments
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Produced and Directed by Kenrick ICE McDonald, Quiet Masters is a documentary that highlights the important history of black magicians from around the world. McDonald, the former president of IABMA and S.A.M., set out to capture the experience of black magicians from around the world, going as far back as the 1800s. Ran’D encourages everyone to watch the documentary to learn about the rich history the documentary uncovers.
Heart and Soul of Magic
The Heart and Soul of Magic is a magic show that features a rotating cast of African American magicians with diverse performance styles. Ran’D’s idea for the show began before he was a professionally performer. As he attended magic conventions, he would often see he was one of the few African American magicians present. Knowing there were more, he began to reach out to magicians he knew. Eventually, he was able to create a lineup that featured fantastic African American performers. Since 2002, the show has been on and off, but Ran’D’s eventual goal is to tour with the show.
What is one thing about modern magic you like? What don’t you like?
Ran’D loves the resurgence of books in magic; this year alone, he points out, there have been some fantastic releases. He notes that a nice balance between books and downloads has been established.
Ran’D wants to see people having less frivolous debates over magic. So many people are trying to be the next guru, but they’re trying to achieve that by belittling and talking down to people. Part of this is due to social media where context behind the words is often lost.
Take Home Point
Ran’D wants everyone to leave being aware that diversity in magic exists, and that you should be communicating with anyone disagrees with you rather than just yelling at them over the internet.