The program contains Wilson's storyboard scenario and drawings for the 13 segments, as an aid to the audience in following the images. You can read into them a variety of interpretations. I tend to see religious and political connotations: of personal and societal transformations, life out of death, spiritual and social evolution.
The program begins with a T-shaped tree (a cross?), made up of a grid of squares, and a copper-headed puppet of a man (in Eden? the Crucifixion?) in the air, being moved by several Bunraku-style manipulators. The man climbs down, but is chased back up by a lion (a dancer here: a weaker image). The man settles in the tree to read a book.
In the next section, a calamity occurs. Lighting strikes (the expulsion from the Garden? nuclear destruction?), and the tree slowly falls. The once solid structure atomizes, and the pieces scatter. Only a tiny square, projected on a slide, remains; that square will be seen many times during the evening. The actual square-grid "branches" are used to build a cabin.
In Knee Play 3, the people build an ark out of the cabin logs. Next, a large bird made of sticks — again, manipulated from below — takes the man from the boat and flies away. The boat is beached and people write graffiti on it, using colored flashlights; a slide projects colored patterns.
In Knee Plays 6 and 7, the boat is fired upon by a cannon and breaks up. The hull sinks and the cabin floats on, to land on the shores of Japan. There, Admiral Perry entertains a fisherman with a puppet show that suggests violence directed against the weaker Japanese figure.
In Knee Play 8, on projected film of water, the hull (on a projected slide) sinks. In Knee Play 9 — which seems to be the segment most dissociated from the others — a Japanese basket-seller picks up a piece of rice while his collection of wares dances.
In the final Knee Plays, 10-13, people pull the boat hull from the water during "the Civil War." There are army tents; next, in a jungle, people begin to read the writing on the hull, and a book is ingeniously assembled from the square-grid boat. This book is then taken from a library shelf by a man wearing a Buddha-like mask. He reads. A tree grows from the book.