Hull Truck's driving force speaks his mind on state of the arts

It's going to be fiery, that's for sure.

Maybe cuts to the arts are a good thing. Theatres have spent the past four decades relinquishing the ability to make work and have learnt only how to employ administrators – and these are some of the less controversial opinions which Mike Bradwell will be bringing with him to Hull tonight.

It will be a return home for Bradwell, the man behind setting up Hull Truck Theatre 40 years ago this year.

Bradwell is visiting Hull where he will hold an evening at Fruit, the city's newest performance venue. He will read from his autobiography, The Reluctant Escapologist, which spans the entire career of the theatre director, writer, teacher – there are too many job titles to which he can lay claim to list here – and take questions from the audience.

"Let's just say it's not really a job, theatre, for me – it is who I am, not something I happen to do for beer money," says Bradwell.

The director – a title he has probably most often been called this past decade, so let's stick with that – retired from the role of artistic director at London's Bush Theatre three years ago.

Over the decade he was in charge of the venue, Bradwell became synonymous with the enormous success of the little theatre which sought out and championed new writing.

Before that he was known as the theatre revolutionary who did the most revolutionary thing he could imagine and set up a theatre company in the least fashionable place imaginable – Hull.

"I was talking to a friend the other day and we were laughing about how I went from being promising to being a veteran and I'm not sure exactly what happened in between," says Bradwell.

What happened in between was that he handed over Hull Truck and went off to London and continued to be at the vanguard of revolutionary theatre. Indeed, he became such a symbol of the type of theatre that pushed at boundaries that a second autobiography, which talks about not just his career but his thoughts on theatre itself and how it has changed, is now being written and is widely anticipated.

When he set up Hull Truck "the name sounded a bit like a band so we thought we might get groupies". The office telephone was the payphone on Coltman Street and the only aim was to make good art.

"Then theatre was made by artists who wanted to make theatre. We didn't need a fifteen million quid building (the cost of the recently built Hull Truck building) to make it, we just made theatre because we needed a job and we wanted to make something," says Bradwell.

Born and raised near Doncaster, Bradwell knew that Hull was a deeply uncool place to set up a theatre company in 1971, which was in part why he decided to set one up there.

"We weren't bothered about anything but the work. That was the only thing we were interested in. In Hull, we could be left alone to get on with it, to make theatre about the people in the town that would be watched by the people in the town, and it worked. That spirit has disappeared from theatre over the last 40 years. Maybe with all the cuts coming, theatre can learn to stop employing administrators and start making work again."

Mike Bradwell in Conversation, Fruit, Humber Street, Hull, tonight, 7.30pm. Tickets on the door.