BATAVIA – Crystal Skipworth tried to keep her nerves under control as she stood in front of the cameras in BATV's studios Sunday and acted out Jeff Byrne's short story, "Foul Play At The Fairgrounds."
"No matter how many times you perform, you are going to be nervous," the 23-year-old Geneva resident said afterwards.
Skipworth is a contestant in BATV's new reality show, “Project Publish," which is being broadcast live from BATV’s studios at Batavia High School every Sunday through March 24. Each week, a performer is randomly paired with a writer.
The contestants were chosen after recent auditions at the Batavia Public Library and St. Charles Public Library.
Skipworth said she was challenged by the time restrictions presented to the contestants. Performers had only 2 minutes, 15 seconds to act out the short stories.
"I struggled with how I was going to get all the words out," she said.
She earned rave reviews from the three judges on "Project Publish" – published St. Charles author Don Bingle, Amber Mitchell, owner and artistic director of Geneva-based theatre education program Stageworks and guest judge Scott Rolf, a filmmaker who is the executive director of the Geneva Film Festival.
But Byrne had a hard time winning over the judges, and he became the first writer eliminated from the show. Byrne, 41, of North Aurora, wasn't taking the loss too hard.
"I felt I wrote a fairly strong piece," he said. "This was the first time I've written anything for someone else to perform. I think she did a great job."
The judges did not have to eliminate a performer after performer Vicki Agustsson announced that she had to drop out of the competition because of other commitments.
"Project Publish" also pits brother against brother. Eric Poulos, a senior at Batavia High School and his older brother, Stephen Poulos, are performers in the competition.
"We think of it as good TV," Eric Poulos said. "We hope there will be a face-off between each other."
The idea for the show came from local writer and St. Charles resident Richard Graves, host and creative director of “ Project Publish .” Graves had bemoaned the fact that writers have a hard time generating an audience during open mic events in a humorous poem he wrote titled “Open Mic Mania.”
BATV community TV station intern and “ Project Publish ” producer Kimberly Kozar heard Graves read the poem during last year’s Art in Your Eye festival in Batavia and decided to bring his idea to life.