Claire Allegra Taylor spent her entire childhood around a theater.
“I pretty much started in acting classes at the local community theater when I was like three,” says Taylor, 24.
Taylor grew up in Portola Valley, CA, about an hour outside of San Francisco, home of the Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory. It was there that Taylor immersed herself in acting, taking classes throughout her middle school and high school years and transitioned to an intern and assistant teaching artist. She participated in many of their main stage shows, and held lead roles in the Wizard of Oz and Our Town before going off to college.
Taylor says her time at the conservatory was invaluable, giving her amazing mentors and igniting her passion for the theater. “The community part of it was so strong and it still feels like home,” she says. “It was a very special place.”
In high school, Taylor was first exposed to Meisner training, but she says it wasn’t until she studied it again under Andrew Gallant, co-founder of Green Shirt Studio, at the DePaul Theater School that she really resonated with the technique.
Taylor says Meisner training helped her learn how to access the emotions she needed to in order to play a scene authentically. “For example, as a young actor I was told, ‘Enter the scene angry.’ But they never said how to get angry,’” she said. But she said Meisner training helps you get in touch with your own emotions outside of the room in order to be able to feel that emotion on stage.
In fact, she became so interested in the Meisner technique that after she graduated from DePaul in 2016, she decided to go and study under one of the most renowned Meisner teachers in the world, Larry Silverberg, who trains others to teach the Meisner technique.
“He is a master teacher in the true sense of the word,” she says.
To earn her Meisner teaching certificate, Taylor attended Silverberg’s True Acting Institute in Salem, OR, where she had to be emotionally honest, vulnerable and present for 10 to 12 hours a day for four straight weeks. “It was very intensive,” Taylor says. “[But] it was absolutely amazing.”
Today, Taylor is now using her extensive Meisner training as an instructor at Green Shirt Studio, where she is now teaching the Level 3 Meisner students.
Taylor says she loves working with students to help them prepare emotionally for their scenes so they can connect more authentically with their scene partners and themselves. Rather than tell students how to do something, she wants to help them discover what works for them on their own.
“My job as a teacher is to hold the space for the students to teach themselves,” she says. “I love those moments where you see someone really have a break through.”
In addition to working as an acting teacher, Taylor is also maintains an active career as a professional actor. Last year, she spent eight months touring the country with the National Players, where she performed in Hamlet, The Grapes of Wrath and The Giver for various schools and universities.
With Taylor’s extensive acting experience, she could have moved to Los Angeles or New York to pursue more commercial acting opportunities, but Taylor says she is more passionate about making art rather than being famous.
Taylor is especially interested in doing new works and works where she gets to work directly with the playwright. And, she recently wrote her first full-length play that she is currently developing with the help of The Agency Theater Collective.
For other actors who are just starting out, Taylor says it’s important to always try to keep learning. “As a student who has been through [the Meisner] technique twice now… I would say to students of Green Shirt that repeating information and repeating classes is so helpful,” she says. “The more you can take ownership of your education and be responsible for your own learning process, the better.”