The third act of a play and of life features the climax and resolution of a story and it’s subplots, leaving the protagonist and other characters with a new sense of who they are.
Third Act Project encourages older men everywhere to be the spirited protagonist in their own stories until the final curtain. Our community’s motto, “Don’t Die Till You’re Dead”, echoes throughout the Project and inspires us to keep our fires alive.
In my early 60s, as freelance work dried up, I joined a group of guys more or less my age to talk about what it felt like to be getting older, and imagining the reality of facing the final curtain. People could raise whatever. That was the deal. It worried me that I was about to kick open a hornet’s nest since I’d been so worried about aging and death since I was a young man. Just the opposite happened. I’d arrived in a safe house where everyone spoke the same language, where nobody was slinging that “60 is the new 40” bullshit and people were so accepting and generous in their reflections that my own anxiety calmed way down. The talk and laughter that weekend, the constant eating and drinking and other exotic forms of intoxication were unending. The camaraderie and good will among seven men was remarkable.
We met again a few times over that first year, each weekend full of schmooze, laughter and warm fellowship. On the drive home one time I wondered whether this same kind of deep feeling and connection could be replicated in the ether, at a website, a place where old guys could exchange ideas about getting older, read stories by famous and not-so-famous men who knew how to live richly until the end of their lives; and to draw renewed enthusiasm for life, regardless of one’s age.
And that’s how the Third Act Project was born.
The content has grown tremendously since we went online in 2016. Now we’ve got the Five Wise Guys who actually set a model for how old guys can get together and yack. We’ve got a music podcast, called Words & Music, a regular poetry podcast called Poems for the Third Act, and a ton more reading, art, music and photography by and about men of our age. There’s nothing like it anywhere.
By the way, the original group is still alive and kicking, all seven of us. We get together four times a year.
Third Act Project Co-Founders
I am a graduate of Hunter College and also have a playwriting degree from the University of Iowa. I’ve worked as a newspaper editor, freelance communication consultant, a PR writer, and as a designer of landscape and garden – my most recent career. That is, aside from my work as principal curator for the Third Act Project, and director/producer of the Five Wise Guys TV series, now in its second season.
The Project has added a dimension of excitement and fun to my life that, as a young man, I couldn’t have imagined would be so exuberant in me when I became older. I mean, with all the aches and pains and sadness and illness and weak pee streams, how much fun could old guys really have? I’m here to say “plenty.” And so much of that was awakened in me as the Third Act Project came to life. Maybe you’ll find it as renewing to your sense of play as I do.
During my Second Act, I received a PhD from Harvard University, a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the William Alanson White Institute and made the field of eating disorders my special career interest. I spent the next forty years treating anorexia and bulimia, writing frequently for scholarly and professional audiences, founding or co-founding several organizations including the National Eating Disorders Association, and the Academy of Eating Disorders.
When I began collecting and writing material for the Third Act Project I followed the notion that old age could be understood as a separate stage of development, with its own joys and sorrows, challenges and accomplishments.
After a while, however, I stopped reading so much because getting old had suddenly become quite personal: my body, my losses and my own perilous journey toward the guaranteed finale were plenty to explore.
And not so easily either. In truth, I needed the same inspiration I was working to create for the Project’s audience of other old guys! I needed courage to create for myself the role of eager protagonist engaging life with strength and imagination.
For me, the Third Act Project has been a unique opportunity to figure that out. It will be for you as well to contemplate this time of life. It will help open a new window on aging, a chance to join a like-minded community and join in the feast of courage and imagination.
“Don’t die ‘til you’re dead.” In the meantime enter into this safe haven and see how much left there is to enjoy.