What I experienced was nothing short of an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness…an ecstasy of unity.

—Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14


A Cognitive Shift

In 1971, astronaut Edgar Mitchell piloted the lunar module on the Apollo 14 mission and made history as the sixth man to walk on the moon. Alongside Alan Shepard, he logged more than nine hours on the lunar surface—an achievement that would define him forever. But it wasn’t until the three-day trip home that the discoveries of his mission came into full view:


It was all there suspended in the cosmos on that fragile little sphere. I experienced a grand epiphany accompanied by exhilaration… From that moment on, my life was irrevocably altered.

—Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14



And he wasn’t alone. Like many who venture into space, Edgar Mitchell experienced a cognitive shift unique to the astronaut’s perspective—one that would later be named and examined by author Frank White in his 1987 book, The Overview Effect. White found what he calls “a complex message” in the astronauts’ testimonies—one that includes a lack of borders (“except those that we create”), a sense of responsibility for the protection of our planet, a shared destiny with all of humanity, and an expanded perspective.


Throughout history, humankind has looked to the night sky with wonder, and it has reflected back our unique perspective — from that point in time — about our place among the stars and the origins of our being. The act of looking up makes us turn inward, connecting the material world with the mystical world. And for those lucky few like astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the bonds of gravity break in more ways than one: “My life’s purpose, I now see, has been to reveal and interpret information, first in outer space and now in inner space.”

By viewing the Earth from a great distance, astronauts sense our beautiful planet’s fragility within the vast scope of outer space, and internalize a deep and profound sense of compassion for the interconnectedness and peace that is possible.

Overview Effect by Portland composer and musician Tylor Neist takes us on a theatrical and musical journey through the cosmos to explore the link between our inner and outer worlds. It is “a meditation on all that is” in a shared, intimate space — a vessel powered by live orchestra, spoken word, Hubble Space Telescope projections, historic Apollo video footage, theater magic, soundscapes, and reactive light installations.

The mission: to simulate the overview effect here on Earth. 

This innovative, hour-long performance is a perfectly distilled and seamlessly interwoven capsule of art and information that inspires self-reflection. Neist’s gorgeous and mesmerizing musical score combines with breathtaking Hubble Telescope projections and historic Apollo footage to glorious affect. Further powered by live orchestra, electronic soundscapes, spoken word, theater, and reactive light installations, Portland Center Stage’s intimate Ellyn Bye Studio will come alive with possibility. 

Bridgetown Orchestra was also an invited performer at 2016 TedX Portland where they previewed Overview Effect for 3000+ attendees to a rousing standing ovation.