IT’S a story that inspired Marvel’s third Thor blockbuster and now a multi-award-winning Scottish theatre company is using the Nordic myth of Ragnarok to explore global crises like climate breakdown.

The decision to base the new play on the story was made by Tortoise in a Nutshell back in 2017 – just before the movie Thor: Ragnarok came out.

Seven years in the making, the theatre production is almost cinematic at times and incorporates around 400 handcrafted clay figures which will be brought to life in stages around Scotland next month.

However, while the Marvel movie depicts the prophesied destruction of Asgard (portrayed by St Abbs in Berwickshire), the new production from the Edinburgh-based theatre company uses the gods as a metaphor for global crises.

The National: Thor Ragnarok

“We’re exploring elements of the same source but if I had a budget like the Marvel film I’d probably be terrified!” co-director Alex Bird told the Sunday National.

Having said that, he’s grateful for the support of Creative Scotland’s touring fund which is making it possible for the production to appear in venues across the country.

“The fund is for pieces of work that are really accessible for people to come and see and there is a huge participation project wrapping around this with lots of workshops and discussions,” said Bird. “We are trying to build up connections with people over a long time rather than just turn up to do a show then leaving.”

He said the company chose the Ragnarok story for inspiration because the Nordic myth cycle has a strong connection to the natural world – appropriate in a time of climate crisis.

In the Ragnarok myth, there is a catastrophic series of natural disasters but the world survives to be repopulated by two human survivors.

READ MORE: Ten years on: What next for the Yes movement?

“While it is a story about cataclysm, it is also story about renewal and the cyclical nature of life,” said Bird.

It’s easy to despair about the climate crisis but Bird said alongside co-creator Arran Howie, they had been inspired by the endurance of people who had gone through extreme circumstances.

“Really big global events can seem so out of our control so we felt it was important for us to explore work that gives people a chance to think about not only how they are part of the global community but also how individual acts are important as they can have consequences and impacts,” said Bird. “Our lives are not meaningless – we are not purely at the whims of the circumstances in which we live.

“There is a risk of falling into despair when we talk about the climate crisis, which makes sense because it is such a huge point of crisis, but we are advocating for the individual and the community.

“It is a story about cataclysm so there is a lot to it that is dark but our hope is that the message people take away is about enduring and not giving up hope in the darkest of moments. We want people to come away and talk about what they have seen – our real strength is to inspire people’s imaginations.”

Ragnarok will receive its world premiere at the Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling in February before an Edinburgh premiere as part of the 17th edition of Manipulate Festival. It will then tour across Scotland and is being presented in association with Norway’s Figurteatret i Nordland.

Bird said: “It’s been such a lot of hard work for a lot of people over a long time but we love what we are making.”