Maria Folguera: A Decade of Artistic Brilliance and Visionary Leadership in the Circus Arts - CircusTalk

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Maria Folguera: A Decade of Artistic Brilliance and Visionary Leadership in the Circus Arts

The official announcement of María Folguera’s departure from her position as the Artistic Director of Teatro Circo Price came in December from CircoRED, the Federation of Circus Professional Associations of Spain. The organization posted, “We say farewell to María Folguera, and the imprint she left at Teatro Circo Price in Madrid.An incredibly hard-working woman, possessing a special sensitivity and a broad vision of art, has significantly contributed to giving the circus a substantial boost, not only within the community of Madrid but also at the national level.”

Having known Maria for over a decade, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. Her profound appreciation for the circus arts is evident in every project, initiative, and advocacy effort she spearheaded at Circo Price and beyond within the broader circus community in Spain. Maria’s sensitivity is rooted in her own identity as an artist. In addition to serving as the Artistic Director of Teatro Circo Price from 2018 to 2023, Maria identifies herself as a “cultural manager” and is also an acclaimed writer—a facet not widely known about her in the international circus community.

Maria has authored three novels and contributed to several anthologies of short stories. As a playwright, she has presented shows at renowned festivals, including Festival de Otoño de Madrid, Festival Internacional de Mérida, and Festival GREC de Barcelona. Among her recent works are “Safo,” based on the life and poems of Sappho, and “Picasso (rey, monstruo y payaso),” showcased at Teatro Circo Price and Sala Beckett/International Dramaturgy Workshop in Barcelona, currently touring across Spain. Maria studied Literature at Universidad Complutense and Stage Directing at RESAD, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in Madrid.

It was an absolute privilege to engage in a conversation with Maria about the years she dedicated to the circus arts, her role at Teatro Circo Price, and her vision for the future of the circus arts in Spain and beyond.

Andrea Honis (AH): How did you first become acquainted with Circo Price, and in what capacity?

Maria Folguera (MF): I started working at Circo Price in the summer of 2009. I met the director at that time, Pere Pinyol, at a summer course for cultural agents. I had just finished my studies in stage directing and literature. I had the chance to talk to him after his conference. He was looking for somebody to coordinate a yearbook about Price—it was his first year as a director. This is how I started working at the Circo Price office. The following year, I became part of the artistic team as a consultant for the program and the activities. I consider Pere Pinyol to be my mentor and I am very grateful I could learn from him. When I met him he was already sick, and he passed away in 2013; he kept working until the end. His loss was a shock. After that I stayed as part of the team that took decisions on the program.

AH: When were you appointed as the Director of the organization, and what were your primary goals and mission at that time?

MF: In 2017 the Madrid City Council opened a call for projects to find a new artistic director for Teatro Circo Price. I applied and was selected. I was the artistic director from 2018 to 2023. My primary goals were to keep the balance among the international and local companies, to support Madrid circus creators, to promote the collaboration among circus creators and other performing arts professionals, to increase the accessibility services for circus, and to explore the circus history through show productions and other initiatives.

AH: Reflecting on your tenure as Artistic Director at Circo Price, what are your thoughts on the past six years? What stands out to you as the organization’s most significant achievement, and what presented the most significant challenge in artistic direction?

MF: I think that the most significant achievement is a collective one: Madrid has become a consolidated circus territory thanks to many influences. [There are] MADPAC (the association of circus professionals in Madrid); new creation venues such as El Invernadero in Alcobendas,a town in the North of the region; FRAC in Fuenlabrada (in the South); Espacio Puntocero; Carampa Circus School— companies that have developed ambitious and successful projects. CircoRED, the federation of Spanish circus associations, has organized three national meetings presenting showcases, and Price was the host. I am proud to have accompanied all of them. 

The most significant challenge has been the dialogue with the architecture of Circo Price. It is a huge hall—the capacity can go to 1,600 spectators—and we have had to adapt it for each different project. We have also supported the innovative dramaturgy in circus, and sometimes it is risky to offer experimental content for a big audience. The idea that circus is only for children is still in the mind of many people. I remember this past year, in May 2023, we premiered a show calledHumanidad that brought together five directors in five short pieces about Goya’s drawings about the war. Somebody, a person cultured in live arts, told me after the performance: “I had never thought that circus could talk about war.” I realized then that although we have developed an audience for contemporary circus, the old idea is still very strong.

AH: FIRCO, the Iberoamerican Circus Festival— which CircusTalk had the privilege to nurture since its conception—emerged during your tenure. How do you perceive its impact over the past seven years on the Iberoamerican circus culture? What accomplishments do you attribute to FIRCO, and how has it influenced the landscape for South American artists?

MF: FIRCO is a great project, a huge success for the audience and a very special date for circus professionals. I see FIRCO as a chance for getting to know circus acts you can’t usually find at other circus festivals. Carlos Such, its artistic director, spends hours and hours looking for interesting acts all over the world and he always surprises me. The Festival is increasingly attracting agents and producers from Europe and America to discover exciting new acts. Also, the artists that come to be part of FIRCO always tell me that they love how the FIRCO team works. It is a great experience for everybody.

AH: Over the past decade, what notable changes have you observed within the circus arts? How do you foresee the evolution of this art form, both in Spain and globally?

MF: As I said, Madrid has changed a lot if we look back. In Spain, the work of the associations has been a key to talking to the public institutions and asking them for support. Circo a Escena, for example, is a circuit promoted by the National Network of Theaters, Redescena, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, that has been going on since 2021. I remember conversations ten years ago in which we dreamed of something like this. Still, there are many things to achieve: more opportunities for circus creators at the public theaters, more urbanistic and paper work facilities to sustain circus tents on tour, more initiatives to develop audiences for contemporary circus. Spain also needs to find a general solution for its complex bureaucracy, which makes any cultural event an odyssey, and a very risky one for its promoters—because it is expensive and requires long and difficult processes. The mental health of a cultural agent is undervalued here. In terms of globalization, I think the big challenge is to keep creating in a world of political tension, where censorship is being normalized.

AH: Beyond your role at Circo Price, your creative pursuits as an author and theater director are well-known. Did this influence your decision to move on from the institutionalized  side to the more creative side? Could you share some insights into your future plans and upcoming creative endeavors?

MF: I am grateful to Circo Price for all these years. I was very happy working with my team at the office and  sharing every day with artists and producers. It took me many weeks to make the decision. Fourteen years at the office, six as an artistic director. Day by day I got to see that it was my time to close the cycle and say goodbye. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to choose definitively between creation or management. I just took some months to write and to focus on two projects: one is a novel, and the other is a theater play. I enjoy doing “less” now, allowing myself to write for hours and not just early in the morning or on the train journey or flight to a circus festival.


On January 31st, the City Council of Madrid announced Maria’s successor for the position of Artistic Director of Teatro Circo Price. The newly appointed Director is Aránzazu Riosalido, a cultural manager, filmmaker, and circus documentarian. Riosalido brings 17 years of experience from her work at the AISGE Foundation, a Spanish collective management organization representing and managing the rights of audiovisual performers, including actors, actresses, dancers, and other entertainment industry performers. According to the City Council’s announcement, Riosalido has previously collaborated with Teatro Circo Price, contributing to the development of conferences and productions as a researcher and documentary filmmaker specializing in the social history of the circus.

Photo by Laurent Leger Adame
Andrea Honis
Founder and COO -United States
Andrea, Founder of CircusTalk, is a fifth-generation member of the Hungarian Eötvös-Picard circus family. Prior to CircusTalk, she worked in advertising and performing arts management. Before starting the CircusTalk project she was Assistant Producer at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’s family series “Reel to Real” in New York City. Andrea holds a BA in Business Administration and an MFA in Performing Arts Management.
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Andrea Honis

Andrea, Founder of CircusTalk, is a fifth-generation member of the Hungarian Eötvös-Picard circus family. Prior to CircusTalk, she worked in advertising and performing arts management. Before starting the CircusTalk project she was Assistant Producer at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’s family series “Reel to Real” in New York City. Andrea holds a BA in Business Administration and an MFA in Performing Arts Management.