The one with the asylum seekers and some rejected ones

A live theatre performance and sit-com recording in front of a live studio audience.

For 10 seasons the all time favourite sit-com Friends aired all over the world. A show about ordinary people with ordinary problems, trying to make it work in New York.

Trying to get a job, a place to live, maybe get a girlfriend, or try to get rid of one.

This theatre performance casted some other ordinary people, who just wants to make their lives work. A group of asylum seekers living in the asylum camps around Copenhagen starred in the roles as the six friends.

For 13 episodes they where hanging out in Central Perk, instead of the camps in a serial performances. It was just like real friends, just like real life. Just a little bit funnier.

The show is supported by the Danish Arts Council and Bikubenfonden.

Friends was performed 8-22 May 2010 at NyAveny in Copenhagen.

Performers Maureen, Elisabeth, Olivia, Angela, Goodwinnie, Karaman, Helmat, Mukuthan, Arian, Fahim, Padma

Host Egill Palsson
Directing & Concept Tue Biering, Jeppe Kristensen
Co.-directing Egill Palsson
Set-design Siri Vilbøl
Video design Jonas Jongejan
Light design Antonio Rodrigues Andersen
Sound design Aske Hoeg
Stagemanager Mette Bisgaard
Productionmanager Hanna Grue
Assistant Anders Brendstrup
Posterphoto Per Morten Abrahamsen
Band Søren og Anders


Excerpt from Tue Biering’s “Hostages of me”:

Popular Culture as a Shortcut

The TV series Friends is familiar to most. It is perhaps the world’s most watched sitcom. In addition, many generations have an almost friendly relationship with the six people who, over ten seasons, sat in some pastel-coloured apartments in New York and tried to make their lives work. In turn, we have a hard time connecting with the people sitting in asylums all around us. People who, like Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe, etc., are also waiting for their lives to make sense. The only thing I knew about asylum seekers were documentaries and press articles, where they were mostly depicted in black and white photos, deeply traumatized and blank in their gaze. Was it possible to create the same close connection with asylum seekers than with the characters in an American sit-com – and maybe even create the feeling of being friends with them?

With a large cast of asylum seekers, we every night for a period of time created a new episode of FRIENDS – THE ONE WITH THE ASYLUM SEEKERS AND SOME REJECTED ONES (2010). We created a studio with cameras and sets from the familiar locations from the series. The audience was instructed by a host to be the live studio audience for the live recording of the day. The cast, who came from the Middle East, parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia, had four hours of rehearsals that day for the evening’s episode, while each night new famous Danish guest stars arrived to play smaller roles. It was recognizable and safe for the audience to be in the FRIENDS’ family, and we could sit and laugh at their silly harmless problems with friendships, work, boyfriend troubles, and cable TV. All played by a cast of people with backgrounds in war, persecution, extreme poverty, etc.

It was fun to make and it was great to see the performers freed from their daily meaninglessness. To laugh with them and get to know them was one thing, but the fact that they took a detour into our consciousness through a silly popular cultural classic, which had made the distance between us smaller, was outright fantastic.

More descriptions, statements and tales from the process will be uploaded continuously.
In the meantime, you can take a look at our collection of behind-the-scenes photos, excerpts, graphics etc.