Playwright accused of groping young actress: 'It was part of the creative process'

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A playwright employed at the Royal Court Theatre has denied groping a young actress during one-on-one rehearsals, insisting the contact was all part of the creative process.

Simon David, 57, was alone with the woman in a room at the Sloane Square theatre working on a dramatic interpretation of his poems E Is For Ecstasy and Kiss Not Over.

Mr David, who has worked in the theatre’s bookshop for 16 years, denies one count of sexual assault in December last year.

The woman, who told Isleworth crown court she had previously rehearsed the works with Mr David, accused him of “grabbing my buttocks” and touching her breasts when they were alone.

He allegedly said afterwards: “It was fun trying to do that, knowing you’re not interested”, and: “If you had said stop I would have stopped up to a point.”

However, Mr David told the court yesterday the contact was consensual: “The intention was artistic, creative and dance-driven.

“As a performer I’m a little over the top in my movements. We both went 100 per cent into it, we were both passionate and very strong.

“It’s not just reading the poem. They have to do the movements and physicality.”

The actress claimed she made it clear she was uncomfortable with the contact, but was too frightened to flee the room, believing Mr David would try to “kill” her. 

Mr David, from Notting Hill, said the actress’s claim was an example of her “over-dramatic” account of events and he had worked with thousands of performers during his “long theatre career”.

He explained his E Is For Ecstasy poem includes embracing but the actress, said Mr David, deliberately pinned her hands behind her back. “That’s what upset me,” he told the jury. “She says I was holding and grabbing her, but that is not the case.

“The hands behind the back was romantic in line with the poem along with a hand resting on the bottom, touching the throat and hand coming off her breast.”

He said the interpretation of Kiss Not Over required physical contact. “It is passion-driven and she completely consented. She was going along with it in the context of the rehearsal and we were both in the moment.”

Mr David denied he became “carried away” due to his passion for his work. “I have a very strong moral grounding,” he said. 

“She was responding with full enthusiasm and dancing and embracing me in the same way I was embracing her.” Mr David said the door of the rehearsal room was open at all times with people constantly passing by.

When arrested he did not ask for a lawyer and gave a full explanation. 

He told the court: “I did not think I had broken the law and still don’t. It was a shock when the accusations came.”

The case continues.

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