The Rat Stanley Project

Guest writer: Sarah Meals, marketing manager

If you have kids or nieces/nephews, I’m sure you’re familiar with the “Flat Stanley Project.”  Started in 1995 by a Canadian elementary school teacher, the Flat Stanley Project involved school children creating a two-dimensional cutout of a little man, then mailing him to friends and family members, who would take pictures of Flat Stanley around the city they lived in.  Stanley would be passed from family member to family member until eventually Flat Stanley made his way back to the original owner with the photos of where he had traveled.

We at Houston Ballet are very familiar with the Flat Stanley idea.  Many of our ballerina mommies and daddies have taken stuffed animals (or other assorted toys) on tour with them, and documented their travels with said objects.  Former principal dancer Barbara Bears took “Teen Titan Robin” on our 2009 Spain tour for her little boy Ethan.

teen titan robin
Teen Titan Robin boarding Air France

One day, as I was having lunch with some pals from Schipul the Web Marketing Company (thanks Michael and Katie!), we brainstormed the idea of Rat Stanley.  How funny would it be for a rat from our production of The Nutcracker to “travel” around the world via our Facebook fans?  The possibilities are endless!  The rat on the Great Wall of China, the rat in front of the Taj Mahal…maybe I’m getting carried away.  But the rat is just so darn cute, who wouldn’t want to tuck him in their pocket and take his picture?

I have a confession to make…this project did present a special perk for me.  Since I began working for Houston Ballet I’ve had a dream to be a rat for just one day.  Thank goodness our costume shop played along and let me use the costume for a very quick photo shoot around Houston so I could show you “samples” of good Rat Stanley pictures.  After two hours of sweating in the costume, I can safely say I will never repeat the process again.  But it’s one more thing to be checked off my bucket list!

Rat in front of Wortham
Photo by Zuzana Leckova of Art Institute of Houston North

So here’s how it’s going to work:

1) Visit this link and download your very own Rat Stanley (don’t forget to cut him out!).  When you get to the landing page, click the “download the large size of this photo” link toward the top of the page.

2) Take pictures of your Rat Stanley in front of well-known tourist attractions in your city.

3) Submit your favorite image (one only, please!) to me, Sarah Meals, at with the subject “Rat Stanley Project.”  Also include your full name and a brief description of your Rat Stanley’s backdrop in the email.  The deadline for submissions is Friday, December 17 at 12pm Central.

4) Houston Ballet staff will narrow down the submissions to ten semi-finalists.  The semi-finalists will be posted to Houston Ballet’s Facebook page by Saturday, December 18, where our Facebook fans will vote for their favorite by “liking” the picture. 

5) The photo with the most likes by Monday, December 27 at 12pm Central will be declared the winner.  The winner will receive a Houston Ballet poster signed by the company, as well as a pair of pointe shoes signed by principal dancer Mireille Hassenboehler.

We are SO looking forward to seeing all of your photos, and thanks for participating!



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